SharePoint 2013 is expected to be available to the public in the first quarter of 2013, and you may be wondering when is the best time to upgrade from SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013.

SharePoint 2013 certainly has some great new functionality and features that you may find enticing, and it may tempt you to expedite the deployment of SharePoint 2013. A few of those temptations include the FAST search technology integrated into the out-of-the-box (OOB) SharePoint search functionality.

SharePoint 2013 also includes several enhancements to the social computing environment, such as status updates, newsfeeds, mentions, as well as improvements in mobile device integration and e-Discovery.

Upgrade Methods for 2013

Another big change is in the upgrade methods for SharePoint 2013. The in-place upgrade option no longer exists for SharePoint 2013 so the only upgrade method, which was always the preferred upgrade method in SharePoint 2010, is the database attach upgrade.

However, there are several improvements in the SharePoint 2013 database attach upgrade process. These improvements include: upgrading service applications, a Site Health Checker feature for site collections, and the option to upgrade site collections after upgrading the database that contains the site collections.

These enhancements streamline the upgrade process and provide a more flexible upgrade process. However, the decision to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 and the process used to upgrade will depend heavily upon your current version of SharePoint and whether or not you are already planning an upgrade from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010.

Getting Up to Speed

If you are running SharePoint 2007, you will have to perform a two-step process to upgrade to SharePoint 2013. The first step is to upgrade to SharePoint 2010, and the second step is to upgrade from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013. At this point you may be wondering, “What is it going to cost to perform the interim upgrade to SharePoint 2010?” The answer is, “It depends.”

If you already have the required hardware for SharePoint 2010, then you will most likely meet the hardware requirements for SharePoint 2013, although I would suggest you beef up the RAM for SharePoint 2013. The core software requirements are slightly different: Server 2008 R2 SP1 or Server 2012, and SQL Server 2008 R2 SP1 or SQL Server 2012. If you already have these, you are set for both the SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 installations.