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Update on InfoPath and SharePoint Forms

 

On January 31st, 2014 Microsoft announced the Update on InfoPath and SharePoint Forms. Microsoft is going to retire InfoPath. To be specific Microsoft is going to retire the desktop client and InfoPath Forms services in SharePoint server. As Microsoft states, " This means that InfoPath 2013 is the last release of the desktop client, and InfoPath Forms Services in SharePoint Server 2013 is the last release of InfoPath Forms Services. The InfoPath Forms Services technology within Office 365 will be maintained and it will function until further notice."

 

Rumors regarding this started a while back. At first these were just rumors, however, I started to notice no updates or patches being released for InfoPath Designer 2013 for Office 2013 or SharePoint 2013. Several 3rd party software companies that specialize in building forms for SharePoint started making bold announcements about this. Finally when I noticed that one of the sessions in SharePoint Conference 2014 is 'No-Code SharePoint 2013 Solutions for power users'  by Asif Rehmani and it included Access 2013 apps, I started to pay a closer attention to these rumors.

 

So what does this mean and how is this going to affect us?

First, lets look at the office blog article again and derive some conclusions.

First, the facts -

  1. InfoPath 2013 forms services is available with support on SharePoint 2013 and will continue to be supported through  April 2023 as part of Microsoft's Lifecycle support policy.
  2. The InfoPath Forms Services technology with Office 365 will be maintained and it will function until further notice.
  3. There will be new forms capabilities in SharePoint.

 

Second, the conclusions-

  1. Is Microsoft telling me to replace InfoPath's web based forms as a must? Absolutely not! The choice is yours. However, Microsoft is giving us a heads-up and providing us close to a decade worth of time to plan and replace InfoPath web based forms on SharePoint just so that we can contact them for technical support incase we run into any issues.
  2. If you haven't already then now would be a good time to seriously consider looking into Office 365's SharePoint online and Access apps and consider using those options instead on on-premise farms.

 

 

Well all the information is good to know, but where does that leave me?

 

It all depends on who you are-

As a CIO, IT VP or IT Director, you have been given a heads-up and now would be the time to look into where your company's SharePoint environment stands, see if there are any new SharePoint projects coming down the pike which involve building web-based forms. Give your SharePoint team the resources they need to start pre-planning to make necessary changes to their SharePoint farms to prepare for this change.

 

As a SharePoint architect and engineer, you have been given a heads-up and now would be the time to utilize the resources your above supervisors give you to see what is the best path to make changes to your farm(s). If you haven't already then consider migrating to SharePoint 2013. Have you considered looking into Office 365 and SharePoint on-premise hybridization? Have you started playing with building Access app? Utilize your Microsoft Licensing for SharePoint Proof-Of-Concepts (POC)

Use this as a valid reason to attend the SharePoint Conference 2014 in Vegas which is only a month

away!!

 

Consulting companies, this absolutely works in your best interest. Reach out to companies and see if you can assist them in making decisions. Do POC's. See where and how clients use InfoPath Services and give them options. Talk about migrating to SharePoint 2013. Talk about hybridization, etc.

 

Has as massive change like this happened before?

 

All the time!! And Microsoft does an outstanding job giving their customers FREE RESOUCES to prepare for it.

Remember the XP to Windows 7 (64-bit) migration? Ever since Microsoft officially announced 4-8-2014 as the official end of support date for XP, many companies (including large enterprise companies) had to plan, discover, build and deploy their Windows 7 64-bit upgrade. Some companies included Office 2010 32-bit upgrade as well.

To help their customers, Microsoft provided some powerful and free tools some of which I have listed below. To make it easier these tools could be deployed using System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or Windows Deployment Services (WDS) to the client's machines.

  1. OEAT - Office Environment Assessment Tool
  2. ACT - Application Compatibility Toolkit
  3. OMPM - Office Migration Planning Manager

  

Do you have any advise for us?

 

Yes, I do! As an IT professional and developer be prepared to embrace changes no matter how big or small they are.

Start reading up on SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 SharePoint online. I have listed a few articles below.

Take a look at what Access App can and cannot do. I have listed an article written by me which demo's Access App's potential. Attend conferences, user groups and sessions  which talk about the topics described in this article. Finally, contact your representative and look into your Microsoft SharePoint licensing and see the advantages of upgrading your licenses to SharePoint 2013 or Office 365 or both.

 

List of articles-

  1. SharePoint 2013, What's new in upgrade
  2. Install and Configure SharePoint 2013
  3. Cloud - Office 365 Vs. On Premise
  4. SharePoint Access Service App demo

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