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Busy Month for SharePoint Enthusiast and SharePoint Product Group

I don't know about you, but I've been working like a fool the past month. I've been so busy that I never considered all that Microsoft has done in the SharePoint space in such a short period of time. Last week I was lucky enough to listen to Steve Marsh, who heads up the SharePoint product group in London, review the past few weeks of activity, and it was amazing. So, I'd like to share with you all the major SharePoint milestones that have been achieved recently. Before I do, though, let me thank all of you who wrote to me with your "Office and SharePoint 2010 wish list" items. The lists were illuminating in many ways, not least of which was the striking commonalities—we're all feeling a lot of the same pain! I'll be compiling those wish lists in a future column, as well as sharing them with Microsoft's product teams. But back to this week's business.

Here are the major milestones that were achieved in the space around SharePoint in the past six weeks:

  • SP2 was released. SP2 is a cumulative update but adds a couple of valuable components. First, it includes an upgrade prescan capability that will help us all analyze our readiness for the upgrade to SharePoint 2010. Second, SP2 for both Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS 2007) and Microsoft Office 2007 fix a long-standing problem with client integration on forms-based authentication (FBA) SharePoint web apps. For more information about SP2, see "What You Get with SharePoint SP2". To download SP2, go to MOSS SP2, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS 3.0) SP2, or Office 2007 SP2.
  • SharePoint 2010 was announced. I listen to people at Microsoft talk about how "early" they announced that SharePoint will be called SharePoint 2010, and I think, "duh." I've been calling it that in this column for six months, not because I knew anything special, but because it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out Microsoft's branding these days. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer kind of spilled the beans about the GA ("general availability") not happening in 2009. What was interesting is Microsoft's decision to remove the "Office" part of the brand—turns out people were used to Office being client-side. Makes sense to me. A shorter product name—now that is innovative!
  • Small details about SharePoint 2010 became clearer. The 2010 wave—exemplified by Exchange 2010 and Internet Explorer (IE) 8.0—feature broader compatibility and standards. And SP2 improved compatibility with Firefox. So, bets are that SharePoint 2010, like Exchange, will feature even better compatibility across browsers and, therefore, across platforms. Microsoft has also made it very clear that the "Software + Services" model is a real investment, so we can look forward to learning exactly how we can mix and match internal SharePoint implementations with hosted "cloud-based" SharePoint services. And don't forget about Office Web Applications, which Microsoft discussed at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) last October. These browser-based versions of common Office applications have the potential to enable some very interesting collaborative and cross-platform and cross-device scenarios.
  • PerformancePoint was rolled into SharePoint. Microsoft increased the value of its business intelligence (BI) "play" by providing PerformancePoint free of charge to SharePoint Enterprise customers. They also announced, in effect, that much of PerformancePoint's functionality will be rolled into SharePoint 2010. This is an important development, as Microsoft has a lot of ground to make up in the BI space and a lot of drive to get potential BI customers into the SharePoint revenue stream.
  • SharePoint Designer 2007 was released as a free tool. You can download this tool and the service pack for it (SP2) from Microsoft. SharePoint Designer is, in my opinion, a very useful and important tool for any SharePoint implementation. It offers so much power to address common business requirements, including custom forms, data views that incorporate non-SharePoint data sources, and custom workflows.
  • And let's not underestimate the value of the release of Windows 7 RC. It's a superstar. Granted, it's not directly related to SharePoint, but it will lead to a lot of excitement around Windows, which will raise interest about all Microsoft products.
  • Microsoft made it blatantly clear that 32-bit servers won't be welcome in the SharePoint 2010 family. The server OS, SQL Server, and SharePoint will be x64 all the way. Personally, I'm really glad. It means we'll finally be forced to avoid crippling our performance on x32 systems.
  • Finally, at TechEd last week, Microsoft announced that the first beta of Office 2010—an invitation-only beta—will begin in July. Until then, Microsoft continues to be unusually and successfully mum about what we can expect. If you're considering a MOSS 2007 or WSS 3.0 rollout in the near future, I highly recommend you wait a few weeks to find out what is in store before making any solid decisions.
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