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I am new to sharepoint online. At first I need to know the difference between sharepoint online and office 365 preview.

Preview site: https://portal.microsoftonline.com/Admin/Default.aspx which looms like below.

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I have also the below site

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Now what is the difference between the two. My goal is to create apps and webparts. Which one shall i choose? I have not installed sharepoint 2013 server/ sharepoint foundation. Can i create apps and webparts without installing server2013/foundation2013?

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SharePoint Online is part of both Office 365 and Office 365 Preview. The current Office 365 includes a feature limited version of SharePoint 2010 (besides other tools like Outlook, Lync) while the upcoming Office 365 Preview (release date not known) includes the online version of SharePoint 2013.

You can try either of them depending on what version of SharePoint you wish to target. You cannot purchase a Office 365 Preview subscription at this point but you can evaluate it for free. Your data will be deleted when Office 365 Preview goes live. Check this article to know about differences between SharePoint Online 2013 and SPO 2010.

You can create Office 365 (Preview) Apps (though not Web Parts) for Office or SharePoint directly out of a browser window. There is no need to install any other tools such as Visual Studio. All you need is an Office 365 account and a supported browser. To get started, sign up for an Office 365 Developer Site. Then, install "Napa" Office 365 Development Tools on your Developer site and you are ready to create apps for Office documents, mail items or SharePoint.

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