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What’s new in SharePoint Server 2013 for IT professionals

Bill Baer is a Senior Product Marketing Manager on the SharePoint team.

In today’s volatile economic climate, organizations require collaboration, communication, and productivity solutions to be both cost-effective and flexible. SharePoint Server 2013 can help you achieve new levels of reliability and performance, delivering features and capabilities that simplify administration, protect communications and information, and empower users while meeting their demands for greater business mobility.

SharePoint Server is a preferred choice among organizations to enable rich, seamless, and productive collaboration. SharePoint Server 2013 builds on the investments of previous SharePoint releases to:

  • Lower IT costs with a flexible and scalable collaboration platform.
  • Better manage risk by safeguarding your business with secure and reliable capabilities.
  • Increase productivity through cost-effective and efficient management.


Changing software can be difficult, SharePoint Server 2013 simplifies the process, empowers the user, and improves resiliency and manageability through new features and capabilities designed to balance the needs of users with those of IT.

What’s new in SharePoint Server 2013:

  • Improvements to Deferred Site Collection Upgrade
  • Site Collection Health Checks
  • Evaluation Site Collections

Deferred Site Collection Upgrade

A completely revised, backward-compatible experience is designed to balance the needs of users with those of IT. Because changing software is often challenging, SharePoint Server 2013 enables IT to upgrade SharePoint Server 2010 without having to upgrade users’ sites and content. These upgrades are deferred to the users, allowing them to choose when the time is right and new evaluation site collections allow users to request an evaluation of the update prior to changing production content. If they’re satisfied with the new experience, site collection administrators then can change their content to SharePoint Server 2013. It’s important to note that whether you have deployed SharePoint Server 2010 on-premises or subscribe to SharePoint Online in Office 365, the full upgrade capability is available.

Site collection health checks

Users have access to site collection health checks, which can be run prior to or during the site collection upgrade process to detect issues and provide solutions for resolving them. Guidance is available every step of the way to help to ensure a successful update. Even after changes are complete, site collection health checks remain available to help ensure the reliability and accessibility of site collections throughout their lifecycle.

Evaluation site collections

Site collection administrators can choose to perform an immediate upgrade through Site Settings or request an evaluation upgrade site collection.

SharePoint Server 2013 enables site collection administrators to request a preview of their site prior to committing their production site collection to upgrade. This enables the site collection administrator and users to validate the look, feel, and functionality of a site collection and establish a plan to address any issues without impacting their production content.

Evaluation site collections provide the same overall functionality that the production site collection on which it is based provides, including search, customizations, and any associated timer job definitions run on the web application or server farm.

System status notifications

System status notifications present important information about a SharePoint deployment and its availability, whether during upgrades, routine maintenance, or conversion to read-only. Users stay up to date on changes because they receive a prominent banner on their sites that provides insight into the activity being performed, which helps reduce calls to the help desk and subsequent burden on IT.

New and improved service applications

Machine Translation Service

SharePoint Server 2013 introduces several new service applications, including Machine Translation Service. Machine translation is the use of software to translate text from one natural language to another, substituting one word in one natural language to its corresponding word in another.  

The service enables you to reach more people with new cloud-based translation services capable of translating not only sites, but also their content. These services have a comprehensive set of APIs, REST, and CSOM support, so content can be pre-translated when needed, or translated on the fly by users-asynchronously, synchronously, or streaming.

PowerPoint Automation Services

PowerPoint Automation Services is a new service application in SharePoint Server 2013 that provides automatic server-side conversion of PowerPoint Presentations from one format to another, for example, a PowerPoint Presentation in Open XML File Format (.pptx) can be converted into Portable Document Format (.pdf) for archival purposes, distribution to clients who do not have Microsoft PowerPoint installed, or to protect the presentation from editing.

PowerPoint Automation Services supports conversion of Open XML File Format (.pptx) and PowerPoint 97-2003 presentation format (.ppt) to .pptx, .pdf, .xps, .jpg, and .png.

User profile service

User profile properties drive a broad set of SharePoint features-from social collaboration to authorization. SharePoint Server 2013 simplifies access to user properties with new profile import options that range from a traditional Microsoft Forefront® Identity Manager-based approach, to new direct Active Directory® Domain Services synchronization, to choices for using an external identity manager. Overall, you should see significant improvements in performance while also having greater flexibility.

Work Management Service

Software should work together. With SharePoint Server 2013, you can gain a 360-degree view of workplace activities and improve communication across your organization through connected systems. A new Work Management Service provides support for action-based event aggregation across Microsoft server products, including Microsoft Exchange Server, Lync® Server, Project Server, and SharePoint Server 2013. For example, users can edit tasks from Microsoft Exchange Server on a mobile phone, and the Work Management Service aggregates tasks from Exchange Server in the My Tasks SharePoint list.

Office Web Apps

Office Web Apps has evolved into a separate server product, Office Web Apps Server, which can serve multiple SharePoint farms for viewing and editing documents. In addition, a server or farm that runs Office Web Apps can be used to view files that are stored across data stores, including the following:

  • Microsoft server products, especially SharePoint Server, Exchange Server, and Lync Server.
  • File servers (URL accessible).

Third parties also can integrate with the service and provide access to documents in their stores, such as EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, OpenText, and Oracle.

By separating Office Web Apps from the SharePoint farm, administrators can update servers more frequently, if desired. Administrators in large organizations can manage the scale and performance of Office Web Apps independent of the SharePoint environment. They also can serve multiple SharePoint farms, as well as Exchange Server and Lync Server, from one Office Web Apps Server environment.

App Management Service

Applications are core to the SharePoint Server 2013 experience. A SharePoint application is a secure, focused solution that is easy to develop, deploy to a marketplace, monitor, and retire. Moreover, managing applications should be easy. SharePoint Server 2013 includes a new App Management Service designed to take the guesswork out of managing applications, permissions, and licensing, whether installed from the SharePoint Marketplace or Internal App Directory.


Minimal Download Strategy

Minimal Download Strategy in SharePoint 2013 improves rendering performance when browsing content where large parts of the page do not change, which provides a more fluid navigation experience. For example, when navigating between a site’s home page and Shared Documents page, only the content that has changed between the source and destination page (controls and placeholders in the content area) are downloaded and the URL subsequently updated where the chrome is persisted.

In a typical AJAX scenario, controls interface with the server individually. Controls on the chrome in SharePoint are implemented with the URL at their core. Minimal Download Strategy implements a new download manager that interfaces between the client and server and retrieves the data as needed depending the initiating request. Each control on the page uses the download manager to update itself when necessary.

Operations and management

Windows PowerShell 3.0

SharePoint Server 2013 includes native support for Windows PowerShell 3.0 to help IT get more done in less time. Windows PowerShell 3.0 provides a comprehensive management platform for all aspects of the data center: servers, network, and storage. In this newest version of Windows PowerShell, sessions to remote servers are more resilient and can withstand various types of interruptions.

Learning Windows PowerShell is easier because of simplified, consistent syntax that resembles natural language. New Windows PowerShell commands are comprehensive and support the diverse tasks required at a data center, so IT professionals can automate basic and complex data center tasks with ease.

Distributed Cache Service

Data-driven applications have become increasingly prevalent as data is consumed from more diverse sources, such as business applications, syndicated feeds, and social contexts. SharePoint Server 2013 includes a new Distributed Cache Service built on the reliability of Windows Server® AppFabric® Caching. Distributed caching helps to ensure that no request takes too long.

Request Management

Request Management in SharePoint Server 2013 enables IT to prioritize and route incoming requests through a rules engine that applies logic to determine the nature of the request and the appropriate response. Request Management can be used to:

  • Route requests to servers with good health characteristics based on a new weighting schema.
  • Identify and block known bad requests such as web robot.
  • Prioritize requests by throttling lower priority requests to preserve resources for those of higher priority.
  • Route specific request types to other servers, either within or outside of the farm handling the request.

Storage and data platform

Shredded Storage

Shredded Storage is designed to reduce an organization’s storage footprint, minimize bandwidth, and improve performance through a new file save algorithm that ensures all write costs for file update operations are proportional to the size of the change being made to the file (and not the size of the file itself). Shredded Storage enables the storage of incremental updates to files in SharePoint Server by breaking a file into pieces and storing those pieces in Microsoft SQL Server®.

Disk I/O

With an increased need for larger quotas, storage costs remain a concern in many SharePoint environments, and there is generally very little room in IT budgets to multiply storage capacity by two, three, or even four times. In parallel, industry shifts and advancements have led to more high-capacity, low-cost commodity storage options. SharePoint Server 2013 can be deployed to a variety of storage architectures without sacrificing availability. Building on the performance improvements in SharePoint Server 2010, SharePoint Server 2013 delivers a significant reduction in disk input/output (I/O), lowering the bar for minimum disk performance. In addition, smoother I/O patterns reduce contention, making more storage options available to support a SharePoint Server 2013 infrastructure.


These improvements only scratch the surface of what’s new in SharePoint Server 2013 for IT Professionals.  Learn about more new features and capabilities through the resources below and let us know in the comments what your favorite new features of SharePoint are.

Explore SharePoint 2013

IT Professional Reviewers Guide for SharePoint Server 2013

Download SharePoint Server 2013 Trial

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