One Project to rule them all: Microsoft plots end to Project Online while nervous Server looks on

Accidental project managers in the crosshairs with the latest cloudy collaboration release

Microsoft has announced a single redesigned service to take on duties from Project Online and Project Server – but not right away.

Corporate veep for Office and Windows marketing Joe Spataro trumpeted the arrival this week of the software giant's new service, simply called Project.

Unlike its predecessors, Project is built from scratch on Microsoft's Common Data Services platform, which will make shunting data around the cloudy world of Redmond considerably simpler. Access to Power Apps and Microsoft Flow, along with Power BI for analytics and reporting got a particular shout-out. And yes, it will be "deeply integrated with Teams".

Microsoft plans to phase the release, starting with Home, which hit this week. Home allows users to create and manage projects using the imaginatively named "project management service" with all data hovering in the cloud for collaboration purposes.

The next module, Roadmap, is aimed at giving users a view of everything in progress, showing work in Project and also Azure DevOps. Third-party products, such as Jira, will also be plugged into the system over time.

So there really won't be anywhere to hide.

All is not lost

Perhaps learning from the Skype experience, Microsoft is at pains to reassure users quite happy with their existing Project Online service that it won't be going away any time soon. Although it will, at some point, most definitely be sent out into the wilderness.

The same applies to Project Server. The 2019 version will ship by the end of this year but after that things are a little hazy. As with many of Microsoft's cloudy products, the on-premises Server product will most likely not see all the same upgrades enjoyed by those who have made the move to the cloud.

Knowing that, at some point, migration will be necessary, Microsoft has sensible advice for users, who will receive the new Project as part of their existing Project Online subscriptions. Start thinking about a side-by-side transition, with new projects created in the new service as existing projects run their course in the old one.

Customers with projects likely to run for many years will be directed to a Microsoft partner for help in shifting their resource planners into the new world, once the service is fully available next year.

The announcement fails to mention the fate of the very popular Project desktop application (spoiler: it won't be going away any time soon) but does represent fair warning to existing Online and Server users that change, while still distant, is on the way. ®

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