The road ahead: Microsoft in 2013

2012's explosion of new releases is over, but updates and third-party tools will continue to delight Microsoft users this year

In 2012, we saw Microsoft release new versions -- at least in beta -- of pretty much everything in its lineup: Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Office 2013, Windows Server 2012, Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013, Lync 2013, System Center 2012, and SQL Server 2012. It has even made a foray into the hardware game with its own tablet, the Surface RT.

So what, if anything, should we be looking for with 2013? Not much, thankfully -- we're still digesting 2012's cornucopia. But there are a few developments we'll see this year from Microsoft.

[ Among Microsoft's highs for 2012: Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012, and Windows Azure. Among its lows: Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and the Surface RT. | Stay abreast of key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. ]

After releasing so many products in such a short period, it is now essential for Microsoft to turn to sales and marketing to get those products into the hands of enterprises. Microsoft can accomplish by getting its product teams to work on SP1 updates for all the products released. Many enterprises simply will not deploy a product from Microsoft until they see SP1. The sooner the service packs hit, the sooner the enterprise adoption can begin in earnest.

Some updates are required for enterprises to be able to deploy the new software at all. For example, Microsoft needs to update Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010 so that admins can transition those existing products to Exchange 2013. Right now even if your organization wanted to make the move, it couldn't do so easily. It's all but certain these needed upgrades will come soon.

You can also expect to see new certifications coming soon from Microsoft for all the new products released. The Windows Server 2012 exams were published in September 2012. We should see the exams for Exchange 2013, Lync 2013, and SharePoint 2013 by April. I also expect the second Windows 8 exam (the Managing and Maintaining Windows 8 70-688) to be released this month; it's a key exam for many in IT because it's required for a Windows 8 MCSA title.

You'll see new Intel-based Windows 8 tablets hitting the market this winter and continuing, I suspect, throughout the year -- including Microsoft's promised Surface Pro. The chip that powers these full-Windows tablets is Intel's new power-efficient Atom "Clover Trail" series. They beat most ARM chips in performance-oriented CPU benchmarks, so they should really make a difference. But their release has been delayed from the promised October 2012, apparently due to a bug.

For those of you who love Microsoft's Xbox gaming system, rumor has it that we'll see a new version unveiled in time for the Christmas holidays. No doubt this new version will play into Microsoft's harmony goal and work with all things Microsoft (such as Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8).

We will see continued updates in all of Microsoft's cloud offerings, including Windows Intune, Windows Azure, and Office 365. Because these are online offerings, it is much easier and faster for Microsoft to enhance these products -- and it has consistently done so.

Although Microsoft may not be the place for hot new releases in 2013, we should still see some great products offered by third-party vendors that are now building and developing new versions based on Microsoft's 2012 releases. These third parties now have stable platforms on which to add their own creativity.

We'll have plenty to digest and take advantage of in 2013!

This story, "The road ahead: Microsoft in 2013," was originally published at Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.