SharePoint 2013 Hosting – New Features in SharePoint 2013 that End Users will Love

It would be a good opportunity to spend some time looking at what SharePoint 2013 is going to offer end users. It’s fair to say, that there is a LOT of information out there already but in the main, it’s all very technical. So, as we wanted to get round some of the things SharePoint 20103 is going to offer anyway. We have done some research and extracted some of what we see as being the best bits for the end users and summarized these below.

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Mobile

Browsers

Microsoft has finally got this right in SharePoint 2013. The number of users that want to view SharePoint ‘on the go’ on mobile devices such as iPods and Smart Phones is obvious. Views are now available in SharePoint 2013 which has been built using HTML5.

This should ensure that this will work on practically any device and will be optimized for most Mobile Browsers (Mobile IE9, Windows Phone 7.5, Safari, and Android. Office Web Apps also mean that documents and files should open on all of these, with no requirement to have Office installed on the device.

Geolocation

There is now a Geolocation field you can use in SharePoint lists. This can store map co-ordinates and is very useful if on the move as you can then want cross reference the said map co-ordinates on SharePoint with your current location. (Think of your company’s office locations maybe? You know its round here somewhere!)

SharePoint 2013 My Sites

General Features

It’s fair to say that My Sites in SharePoint 2013 are as close to a Twitter / Facebook offering that you will get (for an enterprise type solution anyway!). These now allow features such as

  • Newsfeed – Very similar to Facebook, this shows an aggregated view of everything a user is doing
  • Status Updates – In less than 140 Characters will be seen by anyone that is following you (see below)
  • I’m Following – Shows what sources a user is following including People, Docs, Sites etc)
  • What’s trending – Like twitter, shows what subjects are being discussed using the hash tag # symbol
  • Mentions – Shows where a user has been quoted or mentioned using the @ symbol.

My Site Document Library

The Document library in a My Site also has some interesting changes. The one that I think has largely gone un-noticed is the following

“When deployed, a user’s My Site document library is the default save location for files saved from Office 2013 Preview client applications. A discovery service identifies the user’s My Site URL and offers it as the default location in addition to other locations available for saving files”

That’s right. One of the biggest stoppers to user adoption of SharePoint has now (in theory) gone away. As their My Site now becomes the default “Save to” location. This should encourage a lot more people to not save documents to the Desktop or Local drives.

Very much like Dropbox, you can now set up your My Site Document library to Sync with a local drive. Not only does this ensure you have easy access but also offline access (very handy if you need to work on that presentation on the train!).

I think these are two great features which all do a very good job promoting the My Site Document Library.

Share Anything

There is now a prominent link on the My Site that offers sharing hints. It’s also a lot easier to to establish who you are currently sharing with and what. This has removed the need to go through what can be a daunting granting permissions process to many users.

SharePoint 2013 Communities (Think LinkedIn or Facebook groups!)

For a number of reasons Social Networking for the enterprise has not really been something that is widely used in SharePoint 2010. Many large organisations turned to 3rd party vendors such as Newsgator or developed something custom to suit their needs. Neither is no longer really needed as there is massive improvement in SharePoint 2013. (Worrying for Newsgator maybe?)

Communities now provide a ‘forum’ type experience that allows users to become members, share files and participate in discussions in any subject matter. For example, a community could be set up for a team, shared interest or a one off event (results announcements etc). This is all very familiar to those that have used LinkedIn or Facebook for external communities.

Dedicated Community Sites can be created in isolation or as multiples with the new Communities Portal (needs to be ‘switched on)
aggregating and searching across all of the activities happening.

Alternatively, the following community features can be enabled on existing sites. (Very useful if you are upgrading as no need to migrate your existing site to a Community site J)

Community Features

  • Membership
  • Marking / Tagging content (Number of Stars)
  • Discussions
    • Assign Gift Badges ( e.g Level 1 = Rookie Level 5 = Moderator)
    • Best Replies (Like Yahoo Q+A)
    • Categories