At the SharePoint Conference 2012 this week in Las Vegas, Microsoft is touting the next major version of its SharePoint server and service. SharePoint 2013, part of the Office 2013 wave of products and services, puts new social and mobile capabilities at center stage, along with an extensible new cloud app model.

The social stuff is interesting to me. I wrote about this aspect of SharePoint over a year ago in "Inside SharePoint 2010, Part 3: Social Networking Features," and at the time I expected a lot of pushback from readers. That never happened: As it turns out, the current SharePoint version, 2010, sports plenty of useful social networking functionality, and many readers were already excited to take advantage of it.

Much has happened since then.

First, of course, there’s SharePoint 2013 itself. This version of the product builds on the social networking prowess of its predecessor, and of course includes a number of other enhancements I’ll get to below.

But the big news in social is that Microsoft purchased enterprise social networking provider Yammer for $1.2 billion earlier this year. Yammer had been a key player in social networking integration with SharePoint 2010, and Microsoft will be putting this firm’s technologies -- newsfeeds, conversations, personal connections, and so on -- right in the product. And that will happen, post-SharePoint 2013. This week, Microsoft explained how it will do that.

For the time being, you can use Yammer as you did before, as a series of SharePoint add-ins. (Microsoft is also lowering pricing on standalone Yammer versions, of which there are now two: Yammer Basic and Yammer Enterprise.) But the firm will also be including Yammer Enterprise for free with SharePoint Online, and in the future it will integrate Yammer technologies into SharePoint Online/Office 365 using those services’ 90-day release cycle. In other words, if you use SharePoint as a service, it will come much more quickly.

SharePoint is also going mobile. Although you can access SharePoint seamlessly today from the Office hub in Windows Phone 7.x and 8, Microsoft is releasing new native SharePoint apps for Windows 8/RT, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android devices, providing a consistent client experience across all of the major mobile platforms. Each app will work with both SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online.

Microsoft is also talking up a new cloud app model, which will provide the 700,000-strong SharePoint developer community with a new app model and availability through the new Office Store -- released with Office 2013 -- which now includes a SharePoint apps storefront. A new Visual Studio release, codenamed Napa, will help developers target Office and SharePoint 2013 apps.

As for other new features, there are a bunch of them. SharePoint 2013 features the gorgeous new Office 2013 UI. SharePoint Pro -- the new name for SharePoint Workspace -- lets users work offline with SharePoint-based content, and new clients for Windows (built into Office 2013) and mobile apps for Windows 8/RT and iOS will let users access that content on the go. New task management features integrate with the task management functionality in Outlook and Project. And FAST Search has been updated with faster and more relevant results and the ability to find people and documents, with recommendations, that are related to the current search.

If you want to learn more, you can watch the SharePoint Conference 2012 keynote. There’s also a lot more going on with SharePoint; be sure to check out the following resources.