This year is a big one for SharePoint 2013.

Never before has Microsoft tied so many of its big products together before as it has with this latest wave. Windows 8, Office 2013, SharePoint 2013 all share the same common look and feel. Office 2013 is now part of Office 365, and will even save files to the cloud by default. SharePoint 2013 is now also “cloud by default.” Windows 8 has all kinds of hooks to these products and services.

As a result any one piece of this jigsaw failing will have huge knock on effects for the others. SharePoint 2013 needs to pull its weight. But in order to do this effectively it has a few hurdles to overcome first.

1. Yammer Integration

Microsoft pretty much finished SharePoint 2013, and then bought Yammer. As a result it doesn’t integrate fully with SharePoint 2013. Yet.

This will all change in 2013 as Microsoft has committed to releasing more regular updates (we used to call them service packs) for this new version of SharePoint. One of the first of these updates should bring Yammer into the fold much more closely. It will be interesting to see how successful the results are. At a purchase price of over US$ 1 billion, Microsoft needs these two products to work together seamlessly.

2. The Move to the Cloud

SharePoint 2013 is very much a “cloud first” product. Microsoft has clearly decided that the online version of SharePoint 2013 is its main focus (along with the other elements of Office 365). Whilst the “on premises” version of SharePoint won’t be going away soon, this is very much a shift in focus.

How will big enterprises and companies react to this? Cloud services are nothing new, but SharePoint typically holds a company's documents, records and files. Shipping the traditional contents of the Intranet out to the cloud will make some people nervous.

More than this, SharePoint is often used as the “glue” in a company, between a number of different systems (Payroll, HR, Finance, Intranet, Extranet etc.). This doesn’t work as well in the cloud, where custom code and security considerations are stricter. Microsoft has a big job to convince people to move from SharePoint 2010 to this brave new world.

3. The New Interface

The new version of SharePoint ships with a new UI, in similar fashion to Office 2013. The ribbon is no longer the barrier to new users that it once was, but SharePoint has long had to deal with accusations that it isn’t the easiest for end users to get to grips with.

Is SharePoint 2013 an improvement? Well it is different, better in some places, but issues undoubtedly remain. Microsoft needs to convince people that there is enough good new stuff in this release to make it worthwhile for first time users to learn the new UI.

Editor's Note: This isn't the first time and it won't be the last we've heard from Chris on SharePoint 2013. To read some of his initial thoughts on it, check out Microsoft Doesn't Advise You Customize SharePoint 2013