SharePoint 2013 Clues Absent at Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011

Looking for clues to SharePoint 2013 (formerly code-named SharePoint v15) features seems fruitless, but Microsoft’s messaging around cloud, social media, and content management (search and BI) at Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011 might provide some indication of the future, or perhaps about as much as a pregnancy test reveals the hair color of the newborn nine months down the road.

“We want to redefine the landscape, and cloud plays a role,” Senior Director of SharePoint Product Management Jared Spataro said during a briefing at Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2011. “A lot of IT pros are cautious about the cloud. It’s an opportunity for us but also a responsibility.”

A lot of organizations will first straddle the line of hosted SharePoint versus SharePoint on-premises, he says, choosing the hybrid approach, and putting less critical MySites and Team Sites up in the cloud while keeping more mission-critical or compliance-heavy content on-premises. Microsoft recently published guidance about implementing SharePoint in the cloud: “Hybrid SharePoint Environments with Office 365.”

“There’s more we could do: integrate search and content management, BI,” he said, giving people the ability to slice and dice information and get the exact results they’re looking for.  “They want a dynamic environment, with search that recognizes the user.” Social media is a game changer, affecting search as well, he said, citing the opinion of colleagues as being much more relevant to people when considering the results of their search.

Spataro was formerly director of enterprise search at Microsoft. Given the huge loads of content organizations are creating and therefore storing and managing in SharePoint, it's logical that Microsoft continue to address this detritus of life in the 21st century, whether in terms of searching and connecting to that content, making sure it's available, or  making sure it's used to its full extent.

The emphasis on transition and evolution in SharePoint points logically to the fact that Microsoft is not announcing a new version this year. And is a nice way of saying that the product is not where the company would ultimately wish it would be.

True, evolutionary work is necessary, especially when one wants to fold in other products into SharePoint. If SharePoint 2007 was Homo Erectus, just starting to use fire, and SharePoint 2010 is Neanderthal man, who developed a rudimentary religion and culture, we might expect  SharePoint's next version arriving in 2012 or 2013 to be the equivalent of contemporary home sapiens. Or will it be a Frankenstein's monster of parts stitched together, causing pain and chaos wherever its unleashed?

Just a peek, one peek behind the curtain. I'll count the fingers and toes, make sure it has a brain. Then I'll stop with the metaphors forever.  It's not that much to ask, is it?

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