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SharePoint 2010: Beta Arriving This Fall

Microsoft officials described additional details about the upcoming SharePoint Server 2010 product at the Microsoft SharePoint Conference, happening this week in Las Vegas.

SharePoint 2010 was first unveiled in April, along with other new Microsoft server products slated for release next year. On Monday, Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer and Jeff Teper, corporate vice president of SharePoint, took to the stage for a keynote address. They described what to expect with SharePoint 2010, announcing a "feature-complete" public beta to come in November, with release to manufacturing expected around mid-2010.

SharePoint 2010 will offer more opportunities for both partners and users to customize applications in the last mile, they said. The collaboration platform will help unify communications across the Web and enterprise.

"This is the biggest Swiss Army Knife of information software that anybody has ever developed," said Teper in a telephone interview after the opening presentations on Monday. "We are unveiling features that cover the entire spectrum of communications, from wikis to workflows."

Those features include integration with Microsoft Office and Office Web Apps, as well as a new SharePoint Workspace Mobile client. There's also improved enterprise search capabilities using a new FAST Search for SharePoint option.

Despite an earlier rebranding effort, SharePoint 2010 will stay tight with Microsoft Office. In April, Microsoft explained that it planned to drop the "MOSS" (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server) branding with SharePoint 2010 since users tended to consider Office to be a separate product. Despite that talk, Microsoft is promising continued integration with Office.

For instance, SharePoint 2010 will work with earlier versions of Microsoft Office, according to Teper's team blog post. In addition, SharePoint 2010 can be used as a server to host the new Office Web Apps, which will let users run applications such as Word and Excel within a browser.

"Office has always been a pillar of the SharePoint community," Teper explained. "We've always tried to make it easy for Office users to use SharePoint with open protocols and APIs that are designed to work together in a standalone or Internet environment."

Another SharePoint-Office tie-in will be the integration of the Microsoft Groove product. In May, Microsoft announced that Groove would be renamed "SharePoint Workspace 2010." This peer-to-peer collaboration and document-sharing product, while bearing the SharePoint name, will be included as part of the Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 product.

Teper said that current Groove users will be able to migrate to the new SharePoint Workspace 2010 product without a problem.

SharePoint Server 2010 will also include enhanced social tagging features that will make searching faster and easier.

"This release makes it much easier to customize and style documents without writing code," Teper explained. "It has advanced features that provide flexibility for both partners and IT departments in the last mile."

He noted that the new release will be designed to cover the spectrum of business needs -- from large enterprises with extensive IT departments to small-to-medium businesses with minimal IT support.

"SharePoint has always been a good business app for our partners in the enterprise and midmarket segments," Teper said. "Now, it has added opportunities for partners. And with SharePoint Online, there is extensive support for smaller companies as well."

SharePoint 2010 will be available only as a 64-bit platform. Users can upgrade from SharePoint 2007, but Microsoft recommends having Service Pack 2 installed first. Microsoft added features into SP2 that will check for upgrade readiness across server farms.

Additional tips for IT administrators are described in this Microsoft blog, which describes overall system requirements for SharePoint 2010. The blog also includes links to a SharePoint 2010 evaluation guide as well as MVP videos.

Microsoft is particularly focused on adding PowerShell administrative support in SharePoint 2010. The product will ship with "hundreds of commandlets," according to Microsoft's blog.

SharePoint 2010 will also feature several perks for developers. More information on the product's dev support can be found in this article.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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