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How does SharePoint 2016 differ from SharePoint 2013?

SharePoint 2016 will bring new features on premises, but many upgrades focus on easier integration with cloud-based Office 365 services.

Like any new Microsoft product release, SharePoint 2016 is going to be jam-packed with new features. But a raw list of features doesn't really answer the question of how SharePoint 2016 will differ from SharePoint 2013.

To answer that, remember that SharePoint 2013 was developed in 2012. At that time, Microsoft encouraged customers to make the move to Office 365, but not nearly as many organizations used it back then. Consequently, SharePoint 2013 was designed to act primarily as an on-premises platform. Sure, it is possible to create a hybrid SharePoint 2013 deployment, but doing so tends to be messy.

With the forthcoming release of SharePoint 2016, Microsoft is acknowledging that on-premises and cloud-based SharePoint deployments have their place and that many organizations use both. So, the biggest difference between SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016 is that the newer version is built to play nice with Office 365 applications.

Probably the best example of this is the new hybrid configuration wizard. Right now, organizations that want to create a hybrid SharePoint deployment have to use PowerShell scripts to link the two environments. In SharePoint 2016, the process will be wizard-driven.

The hybrid search feature is also being restructured. Even though SharePoint 2013 will allow you to search local and cloud servers, indexes are kept separate for the two environments. In SharePoint 2016, there will finally be a true hybrid index.

For those using hybrid deployments, the Delve feature will seamlessly expose local content and content from SharePoint Online.

SharePoint 2016 will blur the lines between on-premises and cloud-based SharePoint servers, making the server location nearly irrelevant.

Next Steps

Redmond pitches cloud features on premises

Microsoft announces SharePoint 2016 details

Managing SharePoint's usability gap

Navigate migration to Office 365 Import Service


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