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Review: SharePoint Server 2010 beta pulls it all together

New release unifies multiple apps, eases development and administration, saves money

By Mike Heck, Network World
November 09, 2009 12:06 AM ET

Network World - Microsoft's SharePoint Server 2010 is a significant improvement over SharePoint 07, providing IT execs with multiple ways to streamline their infrastructure and cut costs.

Ten things you need to know about SharePoint Server 2010 |
Slideshow: Inside SharePoint Server 2010 beta

Based on our hands-on testing of the beta version of SharePoint Server 2010, this product allows IT departments to run applications such as enterprise search, content management, collaboration and business intelligence on a single platform.

Together with improved Internet site capabilities, SharePoint 2010 means companies can avoid the licensing and training costs associated with separate apps. SharePoint 2010 also offers improved developer and administration capabilities, which will likely speed application creation while easing server management.

We tested beta versions of SharePoint Server, and two related apps, Visual Studio and Office 2010, in a virtualized environment and found that SharePoint Server 2010 is faster and more intuitive than the previous version, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007.

The now-familiar ribbon user interface, introduced with Office 2007, is integrated throughout SharePoint 2010. The beta let me take a complex Word 2010 document with tables and paste it into a SharePoint Web site without losing any of the original design – and then use identical formatting commands in SharePoint to further refine the layout. By contrast, MOSS offered very limited formatting options.

Microsoft has woven Silverlight (a tool for creating interactive Web apps) and AJAX functionality throughout, giving business users easy ways to add rich media and interactivity.

I dropped a Silverlight Web Part onto a page to display a Windows Media Video file (contained in the new video asset library) – something that wasn't possible in the past. Companies can employ this capability to build You-Tube-like sites, but without the need for programming or additional applica-tions.

According to Microsoft, accessibility was a highly requested new feature, and from my testing the company listened. I had no trouble viewing my SharePoint sites and editing them using Internet Explorer 8 on a PC and Safari on a Mac, and viewing them through Safari on an iPhone.

SharePoint Workspace 2010 (formerly Microsoft Office Groove) worked without problem in transferring my documents offline (or creating new ones), letting me make edits, and then synchronizing changes once I connected back to my network.

Getting social

Community applications are all the rage, as enterprise software vendors try to emulate the success of Facebook behind the firewall. Microsoft has done a good job improving the community features of SharePoint 2010. User Profiles now let you include colleagues, interests or expertise. There's social tagging and ratings, making it easier to share content. And activity feeds help you keep up with what colleagues are doing.

Blogs and wikis are improved, too. As an experiment, I built a Wikipedia-style table of contents in my enterprise wiki, a common task that you couldn't easily do in the past.

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