Update – View our Updated Microsoft 2015 Product Road Map Here
When Microsoft® announced their reorganization into a Devices and Services company last year, part of the restructuring was to enable the company to greatly reduce the amount of time between updates to their major products. Whereas they have traditionally updated on a three year schedule, this was to be reduced to approximately one year between updates. At first glance this appears beneficial to customers, although there may be some who would rather avoid the potential disruption of such frequent updates, particularly if they involve changes to the user interface.
If we take Microsoft at their word we should expect an annual refresh to every product, which seems somewhat unlikely. They are, however, making a concerted effort to update many of their mainstream products during the coming year. Many of the updates are expected to take better advantage of cloud computing, which is a major push within MS today. Another direction within Microsoft is closer alignment between Windows® RT and Windows Phone®, with some speculating that the Operating Systems may become one in the same.
Microsoft rarely offers definitive dates for future product releases, but they often provide estimates such as “Early 2014” or “Q2”.
Whether the estimated releases may or may not hit the dates below, they are usually close and if nothing else, we can usually rely upon them to at least expect a release at some point. The following product information has been compiled from Microsoft sources and media reports:
Dynamics® AX 2012 R3 – April, 2014
It has been more than a year since MS released Dynamics® AX 2012 R2 and much has changed during that time. This latest update is expected to allow organizations to interact with their customers through mobile devices, which is consistent with the overall strategy of improved cloud enablement. R3 also promises improvements to supply chain management and improved logistics integration between warehousing and transportation.
Dynamics® CRM “Leo” – Mid-2014
“Leo” is expected to retire support for classic forms and exclusively support Process-Forms going forward. Leo will also introduce support for iPhones and Android.
Exchange Server® 2013 SP1 – April 2014
Perhaps the most notable feature of SP1 will be that Exchange Server 2013 will finally run on Windows Server 2012 R2.
Lync® Server 2014 – Q2 2014
The official name of the newest version of Lync has yet to be released, but users can look forward to instant messaging and audio calls between Lync and Skype devices. Unfortunately, video communication is not expected with the initial release, although that may arrive later this year.
“Mohoro” Desktop as a Service – Late 2014
It may be premature to predict Microsoft’s first entry into the Desktop as a Service (DaaS) arena, but “Mohoro” (code name) has been rumored for quite some time and it would seem a logical component of Microsoft’s product line as customers migrate to the cloud. With DaaS, users can run Windows and Windows apps in a browser or in a window on just about any device, including iPads® and Macs®.
Office® 2013 SP1 – Q2 2014
The pending Service Pack to Office 2013 will likely bring the latest features and fixes such as touch enablement to locally based Office 2013, just as the cloud updates Office 365 on a regular basis. While Microsoft has not ensured that Office 365 and Office 2013 will ever be identical, many customers will likely demand continued support for the traditional flagship office productivity suite. Microsoft would like to migrate customers to Office 365 as a means to provide a predictable recurring revenue stream, but since the need for applications in Office won’t go away in the foreseeable future, it’s often more cost effective for customers to purchase a perpetual license than that of the cloud based subscription for Office 365.
Power BI for Office® 365 – First quarter, 2014
Business Intelligence has become a common emphasis for many companies recently and Power BI for Office 365 will be a self-service tool to allow users to graphically and visually analyze data from Excel®, SharePoint®, and other Office 365 components. It will reportedly include familiar as well as emerging functionality, including mapping and search features.
SharePoint® Server 2013 SP1 – April, 2014
The SP1 release of SharePoint Server 2013 will offer support under Windows® Server 2012 R2. It is also expected to integrate closely with Microsoft’s social networking application, Yammer.
SQL® Server 2014 – Q1, 2014
Perhaps the most widely anticipated new feature of SQL Server 2014 is that which is referred to as In-Memory Online Transaction Processing. With In-Memory OLTP, administrators can move selected tables into main memory, thereby dramatically improving performance. SQL Server 2014 will integrate with Azure for back-up and recovery as well as improved scalability.
Visual Studio® 2013 Update 2 – Spring, 2014
Microsoft recently released Update 1 to Visual Studio 2013, but that update was primarily focused on improved functionality with versions of IE prior to IE 10. We can expect a second update within the coming months which will include a new version of Team Foundation Server (TFS), improved Agile Project Management, and the increment of Git tooling.
Windows® 8.1 Update 1 – April, 2014
As is so often the case, Microsoft has shared little about this widely expected update to Windows 8.1, but a number of highly respected analysts are speculating that this update will improve the experience for users wishing to use Metro Apps in a desktop (or laptop) environment. Many users of devices which are not touch enabled have been critical of the Metro UI and have often reverted to the familiar UI on Windows® 7, but if Microsoft wants to standardize on a consistent platform they are going to have to convince desktop users to embrace Metro.