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Office 365 Update Schedule Accelerated

Things won't happen as quickly for on-premises versions of Office.

Similar to Visual Studio, Office 365 will be getting more frequent updates.

Visual Studio 2012 has been constantly updated in 2013, with a new community technology preview (CTP) coming every month. First, Visual Studio 2012 Update 2 was released in early April. And the first CTP of Update 3 is already out. That pattern may be repeated in Microsoft's cloud-based productivity suite.

Mary Jo Foley, a veteran reporter about all things Microsoft, cited comments from Jeff Teper, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Office servers and services, to support the claims. The company has already been delivering quarterly or monthly updates to its cloud-based Office 365 productivity suite offerings, according to Foley's account posted on Tuesday. That shift is part of the new cadence to come.

The Office update cadence will be a bit different for those organizations using the customer premises-installed server versions of the product. Organizations typically can't handle new server products except every two years, according to Teper, so Microsoft plans to go a bit slower on delivering product updates to customers with premises-installed Office suites. Consequently, Microsoft plans to continue to deliver service packs for server-based Office products, delivering them once a year, at minimum. These service packs could contain a few new features along with the functionality fixes, according to Foley's reporting.

Cumulative updates to customer premises-based Office server products will tend to be delivered "every two months and will not include any new features," Foley wrote.

She also described new Office lingo emanating from Microsoft. An "upgrade" is considered to be a new version of a product, whereas an "update" adds new features to an existing product.

Office 365 productivity suite products will get updated more frequently than the customer premises-installed Office server products, according to Foley's account. She cites Teper as saying that "some features may be only available in the service," so the two products may tend to be a little different over time.

Teper also disclosed to Foley that the Exchange and SharePoint teams for both the online and on-premises products are now considered to be one team at Microsoft. Yammer is part of that mix, too. Teper told Foley that "we think of Exchange, SharePoint and Yammer now as one product."

The update cadence for Yammer apparently can happen even faster, as weekly updates rather than monthly updates, per Foley's reporting.

Foley again pointed to a series of Office updates, rumored to be called "Gemini," which supposedly will start to arrive in October. She has described the Gemini updates as adding better touch functionality to Office running on the Windows Store app side ("Metro") of Windows 8 and Windows RT. While Foley mentioned Gemini in her article, she didn't quote Teper as confirming it, so it still seems to be rumored.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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