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What’s New in Microsoft Project 2013? Part 1: Introduction and Project Online

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Earlier this year, Microsoft released Microsoft Project 2013. For the next several weeks, we will be going in-depth on each of the most important feature updates.

The main changes and improvements made to Microsoft Project that we will cover include:

  • Project Online in the Microsoft Cloud
  • Overhaul of the reporting features
  • New “app-like” interface
  • More seamless integration between Project Server and SharePoint
  • Database structure updates
  • Demand management

The most obvious of the changes are those to the look and feel of Microsoft Project. As with the entire Microsoft 2013 Suite, especially Windows 8, Microsoft has made a clear move toward the sleeker, more modern “app-like” interface. Right from the initial screen in Microsoft Project 2013 (see Figure 1), you can see that Project 2013 prefers to display your options in rows of clickable tiles in lieu of the Microsoft’s traditional tabs with drop-down lists. While this may seem unimportant, it represents a fundamental adaptation of Microsoft’s suite that underlies much of the updates in Project 2013: detail-oriented walls of text are being replaced by intuition-friendly graphical displays wherever it is at all possible. The loss of detail is expedient, but not unambiguously helpful.

Figure 1

Blog - What's New in Project 2013 Initial Screen

A perfect example of this movement is the inclusion of the Timeline View, which is by displayed by default. This provides basic information on where you are in the project. Again, the overwhelming detail you get in a list of dates has been compacted into a graphical display small enough to be displayed at the top of the Project Center.

The most anticipated change, however, is the availability of Microsoft Project 2013 in the Microsoft Cloud.

With the release of the Microsoft 2010 suite, Microsoft introduced Office 365, which offered Word, PowerPoint, Excel and the other Microsoft Office applications in the cloud. Now, Project has been added to that family of cloud-available products.


What Is Hosting?

Microsoft now owns a hosting infrastructure so that you can run Project 2013 off-premises. You no longer have to have all the applications and supporting hardware; the SQL databse, Outlook, SharePoint, and Project are all in one place and they’re all on Microsoft Project. All you have to worry about is the application database.

The below figure summarizes the main differences and similarities between the on-premise and hosted products:

Feature On-Premise Hosted
Comes with hardware infrastructure No Yes
Comes with operating system database No Yes
Includes configuration and support No No



With such a fundamental change to the foundation of Microsoft Project, this affects several of the logistics of running the application.

The below summarizes some of the logistical concerns of running Microsoft Project 2013:

  • You do still need Microsoft Project Professional.
  • You no longer need all of the surrounding Microsoft environment.

For the first time, Microsoft Project allows for “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD). Microsoft traditionally only allowed for Microsoft software to be run on a PC, using Windows, running Internet Explorer, etc, but that is not the case with Microsoft Project. You can access Project 2013 on a Mac, for example.In fact, Project 2013 adds an “on-the-go” feature. With your product key, you also get a portable server that allows you to use a simplified, functional version of Project from anywhere.

  • You no longer own your own license.

When you’re in the Microsoft Cloud, you are part of a multi-tenant environment with security administration, much like an apartment building where several people live in the same edifice, but everyone has their own separate space that is kept private. And much like an apartment, you do not own our space on the server, and instead rent the license. You pay a monthly fee that includes a Web App fee, Project license fee and so forth.


How to Get Started

To get started in the cloud, you need to contact a certified Microsoft representative, such as Project Assistants, who will give you a key. Once you have the key, you need someone in your organization who will be the administrator.

In our next post, we cover the extensive changes made to reporting in Microsoft Project 2013.

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Posted in General Project Management, Microsoft Project, Technology

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