With each new release of SharePoint I become like a kid in a candy shop, ready to find all the new and exciting goodies that have been made available. SharePoint 2013 has been no exception.

Since the release of the Customer Preview I have been anxiously digging in and trying to find what new and exciting things have been added. What I have found so far has been a pleasant surprise, and not quite what I expected. In this article we are going to highlight some of the key areas that have caught my attention and how they could easily add ROI to your SharePoint investment.

First Impressions

The first impressions I had of 2013 were that they were trying to provide a more natural experience that allows you to easily navigate to the content you want, without getting lost in so many extra elements. I greatly appreciate the way that in 2013 the Ribbon becomes available, but doesn’t necessarily open to display a large collection of configuration options before I am ready.

Another great feature is how easily you can work with and edit content on the page. New enhancements to inline editing make the interaction with the content much more natural and expected. There are less options available to me on the primary menus so that I can more easily accomplish my primary tasks.

The other options still remain available, but they are hidden until I am ready to access them. This is a huge improvement in efficiency for common tasks and should have a great impact on your organization. By making these features more natural to the everyday user, the need for training is reduced to only really being required for the more advanced features.

Another big thing I have noticed so far is the tight integration with the Office 2013 release. For a few releases now they have been released all under the Office Product line, but for the first time I am really seeing the value in having both the latest version of Office and the latest version of SharePoint. They complement each other in such a great way that I wouldn’t want to have to use one without the other. You add additional tools to the mix, such as a Windows Tablet and I am ready to go!

So far the improved functionality and general enjoyment of working with the latest release is what sticks out to me as being the greatest improvements. Some of the smallest changes in how things are presented or integration have made a huge impact in this release.

Social

Once I got through my first impressions, it was time to dig in. One big area that I have enjoyed looking into is the area of Social within SharePoint. In the past, social elements such as My Sites and tagging were nice, but they didn’t really drive me to use them. Within 2013, the story changes. So much more is available and the changes are great improvements that will drive Social sites to be the central hub for a user. Being able to easily access and work with the relevant data when I need it is a huge step forward.