Posey's Tips & Tricks

Predictions and Suggestions for Microsoft's Upcoming Product Lineup

Brien discusses some of the changes Microsoft is going through with its products' latest lifecycle and provides some suggestions for what he would like to see.

As I'm sure you know, Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 are being released soon, and Microsoft has also been hard at work on the next releases of many of its other products as well. As someone who writes an insane volume of material about Microsoft products, I have been getting bombarded by e-mail requests from people who want information about the next versions of products such as Exchange, SharePoint and Office.

Normally I seem to do a pretty good job of staying on top of Microsoft's product development cycles. This time around however, I had heard almost nothing about the new releases. That being the case, I decided to contact someone that I know at Waggener Edstrom (Microsoft's PR firm) and ask them if they can provide me with any information about the new line of products. I explained that I was interested in feature lists, beta codes or technical documentation.

The response that I received basically said that Microsoft will be releasing more information later this summer, but for right now there was a blog post that I could read about Office 15. The blog post wasn't really very helpful. It basically said that the technical preview was going on and that a public beta would be released later on.

Since the response that I received didn't mention SharePoint or Exchange, I wrote back and asked if there was anything that could be shared about those products. The response that I got back blew my mind. According to the message Microsoft is simultaneously updating Office, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project and Visio. This is a huge step forward for Microsoft.

In the past each product followed its own development cycle. Products might have been developed at roughly the same time, but the development cycle had a negative impact on the interoperability between the products.

For starters, Microsoft is doing the smart thing and rolling out their new operating system before anything else. This will surely help to avoid some of the frustrations of the past. For example, Windows Server 2008 and Exchange 2007 were released somewhat close together. Even so, Exchange 2007 was released before Windows Server 2008, so the product did not support being installed on Windows Server 2008 until the capability was later provided through a service pack. In the meantime however, Exchange Server admins were unable to take advantage of all the new Windows Server 2008 features. As if that were not bad enough, Windows could not be upgraded once Exchange was running on a server. Instead, administrators who later wanted to use Windows Server 2008 had to work through a tedious migration process.

The simple fact that Microsoft is making its new operating system available before it releases any of their new server products should mean that each of the new server products will be fully supported on Windows Server 2012. Of course this is just speculation on my part, but it seems logical.

The fact that the various products that I previously mentioned are being developed simultaneously suggests that there will be a high degree of interoperability between the products.

In some ways this has always been the case. For example, Outlook has long been the preferred client for Exchange. Likewise, there is at least some interaction between Exchange, SharePoint, Outlook and Lync. Even so, the degree to which Exchange and SharePoint currently work together is somewhat limited.

I think that this is about to change. Part of the reason for this is that Microsoft has included SharePoint, Exchange and Lync as a bundle in Office 365. It is trying to market Office 365 as a single product / service. I think that in order for Microsoft to truly be successful with its Office 365 offerings, it will need to develop a "better together" strategy in which Exchange, SharePoint and Lync all complement one another. My guess is that this is exactly what Microsoft is trying to achieve by developing everything at the same time.

Obviously I don't have a crystal ball, but I will make a few predictions about the next generation of Microsoft products. Some of the things that I expect to see across the board for all of the new server products are:

  • Deep PowerShell integration
  • Web front ends
  • More efficient use of system resources (so that the products will work better in a virtual datacenter)
  • A focus on providing services to mobile (and often unmanaged) devices

Of course these are just my predictions. We will have to wait and see if they come true.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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