Microsoft to Launch Revamped SharePoint as Public Beta

Public betas of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 and Office 2010 will become available in November, CEO Steve Ballmer told the crowd attending Microsoft’s SharePoint conference in Las Vegas on Monday.

Touting SharePoint Server 2010 as the biggest and most important release of SharePoint to date, Ballmer pointed to some of the collaboration platform’s new features:

  • a new ribbon user interface to customize SharePoint sites;
  • Office integration through social tagging, backstage integration and document lifecycle management;
  • built-in support for rich media such as video, audio and Silverlight;
  • new Web content management features, multilingual support and one-click page layout;
  • new SharePoint tools in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010;
  • business connectivity services, which allow developers to connect to line-of-business data or Web services in SharePoint Server and the Office client;
  • APIs and support for Silverlight, representational state transfer (REST) and language-integrated query (LINQ), to help developers build applications on the SharePoint platform; and
  • two new SharePoint SKUs for Internet-facing sites, including an on-premises and a hosted offering.

In the broader picture, SharePoint Server 2010 — with its enhanced Web 2.0 functionality — is better positioned to serve a core business collaboration platform for enterprises, Ballmer said.

An improved developer platform makes it easier to build rich content and collaboration applications, he noted, also pointing out the enhanced Internet site capabilities, and the platform’s flexibility between on-premises and cloud applications.

$1.3 Billion in Revenue

SharePoint Server is one of Microsoft’s fastest-growing products, drawing more than US$1.3 billion in revenue, according to IDC figures.

For all the enhancements in the new version, though, a key determinant to SharePoint 2010’s success will be Windows 7, said Charles King, principal of Pund-IT — “that, plus whether or not companies that adopted Windows 7 then decide to make the jump to SharePoint.”

One of challenges Microsoft faced with Vista was the fact that it had been delayed so much that its release cycle interfered with the release cycle of the Office product, King told TechNewsWorld. “Traditionally, Microsoft has kept those two separate cycles about 18 months apart so enterprises wouldn’t have to buy both products at same time.”

This time around, he said, with Windows 7 coming now and Office 2010 pushed out to next year, there should be enough lag time to consider both products in an objective fashion.

Cozying Up to SharePoint

The forthcoming SharePoint Server could drive Window 7 sales to a certain extent.

SharePoint has registered more than 20 percent growth over the past year, according to IDC.

“We have seen more and more companies adopt SharePoint as a primary information and business collaboration platform,” King said.

Increasingly, vendors of complementary applications are stepping up to create integration points between the SharePoint front end and the storage and information management back ends, he noted.

IBM’s On Demand conference is being held next week, and King expects to see new solutions around SharePoint there.

In general, “playing nice with Microsoft SharePoint is something we will see large enterprise vendors do increasingly,” he said, citing HP and Oracle as other examples.

SharePoint is becoming more important to Microsoft for several reasons aside from its organic growth, said Greg Sterling, principal of Sterling Market Research.

“It has become more significant in this cloud-focused world where collaboration is being emphasized by the enterprise,” he told TechNewsWorld. The whole industry movement toward the cloud is causing Microsoft to promote SharePoint as part of its larger cloud computing push.”

Microsoft could not make a spokesperson available for comment in time for publication.

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