Project 2013 Offerings: Comparison and Requirements

With the advent of Project 2013 there are a few different versions available and this little post is an attempt to help clarify those differences.  Also, to help clarify things, only 2013 Project works with 2013 (it does not allow 2010 or 2007 connectivity).  You can still open a previous version’s project file in 2013, but only 2013 Professional connects with Project Online 2013 and Project Server 2013.

The first group we are going to cover are the versions that are installed and used in-house.  This is the more common version that has been used by organizations up until this point.  The server version of the software is called Project Server 2013.  This is the software that has requirements like SharePoint Server 2013 and SQL Server (2012 SP1 if you want SSRS [which we strongly recommend]) to be installed in-house as well.

To access Project Server 2013 to edit or create schedules you will need to use Project Professional 2013.  This is the client software that allows access to the server.  The only people that really need Project Professional 2013 are those that interact with the schedules as a whole and directly.  There is also a tool that can be used by scheduling professionals that does not use Project Server, and that is Project Standard 2013.  This is the “stand-alone” version of the Project for the client.  At the bottom of this entry is a brief comparison of the Project Professional and Standard versions.

To access Project Server 2013 in a web-enabled environment you use the PWA (Project Web App) interface.  This is a web page and can be accessed by almost every browser now but is still part of the local organization’s network.

To clarify, here is a diagram that Darin Brazile worked up to represent how it works:


The second set of versions that we are going to cover are the Online versions.  These are the Microsoft online versions where the software is somewhere in the world and you access it by your web browser.  This is called Project Online.  This is the web-enabled version of PWA and is called PWA just like the in-house version is called PWA.   This is a fully functional version of PWA and is based on a monthly licensing fee.  There is also a product for users in your organization that are Team Members (the ones that don’t use PWA much and really want to only deal with Task Updates) that is called Project Lite.  This is a monthly fee as well but is less expensive than Project Online.

Now is when it gets interesting.  To access PWA for Project Online, you only need a browser (just like the way you do it in-house).  However, there are a couple of options if you want to use Project Professional.  You can not use Project Standard so that is not part of the Project Online discussion.  You can purchase a copy of Project Professional 2013 and have it installed on the client machine.  This means that you will use only that client machine (or another one that has Project Professional 2013 on it) to access the Project Online scheduling information if PWA isn’t sufficient to meet your needs.

The second option is to purchase Project Pro for Office 365 with Project Online.  This is a great solution that allows you to stay in a “web-enabled/cloud” environment and not have to worry about having Project Professional 2013 on your local client machine.  Basically, from a non-technical perspective, the way it works is that when you sign in from a client machine and need Project Professional capabilities you can temporarily “download and install” the Project Pro product.  This allows you to work on any client machine with your Project Online tenant and when you are done the Project Pro is “deleted” from that client machine.  See the table below that explains some of the capability/functional differences between Project Standard 2013, Project Professional 2013 and Project Pro for Office 365.

And, then there are varied methods on how to make this work as well.  You can have a hosted tenant of Project Online.  You can have a hosted tenant of Project Server that can be a shared or dedicated tenant.  And, the options go on and on about the exact methodology about how you get to those instances but the basic differences of Online and in-house are laid out above.

The following is the brief comparison from the three Project client versions.  This is directly from the Microsoft Project site as of February 12, 2014, for the Project Management options tab on the Choose Project page.  From the Project Management perspective, the recommendation is to have Project Professional 2013.

Project Online and Project 2013 Comparison

1 Requires Microsoft Lync Online or Microsoft Lync 2013 (sold separately).
2 Requires SharePoint Online or SharePoint 2013, Project Online or Project Server 2013 (all sold separately).
3 Requires Project Online or Project Server 2013 (sold separately).


And, since we are copying the table from Microsoft, here is their table for which version works best for Project Portfolio Management.  This is directly from the Microsoft Project site as of February 12, 2014, for the Project Portfolio Management options tab on the Choose Project page.  From the Project Portfolio Management perspective, the recommendation is to have Project Online with Project Pro for Office 365.


Stream Project Pro for Office 365 directly from the web.

1 Project Professional 2013 sold separately.



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Written by Collin Quiring

Collin Quiring is the Managing Partner of EPM Strategy and has over 20 years experience in project management, resource management, product development, systems administration, reporting and training. Mr. Quiring is a technical expert in Microsoft Project, Project Server, Project Online and Power BI. He has worked with all aspects of the tools from installation to configuration to daily administration, and holds the PMP, OPM3, MCTS, MCT, MCP, and CIRM certifications, along with an MBA. Contact Collin at

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1 Comment
  1. Thanks Liz and Kevin!

    Kevin – from an operational functionality standpoint there are very few differences between online and on-premise versions. The attempt by Microsoft is to make it so there are no differences. The main difference from the administration perspective is the method of getting data (with only Odata if using online) and the ability to get onto the server itself (which you can’t in the online version).

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