SharePoint Grabs Attention of The New York Times

Open source advocate begrudgingly acknowledges Microsoft's successful Trojan horse strategy

You know something's hot when non-tech publications talk about a product technology like Microsoft SharePoint. Ashlee Vance of the New York Times has an article talking about SharePoint's success even with our downed economy. It's not popular these days to be positive about a market dominator like Microsoft, and there has been bad news with Microsoft earnings, but you have to give Microsoft their due when it comes to successes like SharePoint.

First, the Trojan horse strategy. One of the best kept secrets is that the base functionality in SharePoint, WSS 3.0 (Windows SharePoint Server), comes free with Windows Server 2003 and 2008 - just download it for free from Microsoft. In it you'll find the core functionality used to create sites, portals, document libraries, collaboration sites, search, etc. It's easy to get started with SharePoint and then upgrade to SharePoint Server Standard or Enterprise as more advanced business intelligence and integration features are required.

Even open source advocate Matt Asay admits Microsoft's got a savvy approach with SharePoint. I respect Matt for giving Microsoft its due, even when it is a proprietary software approach.

From the NYTimes article: “It is simultaneously the most interesting and dangerous Microsoft technology, and has largely caught its competitors napping.” - Matt Asay, Alfresco exec and Open Source Business Conference founder.

Matt goes on to say... “It’s a brilliant strategy that mimics open source in its viral, free distribution, but transcends open source in its ability to lock customers into a complete, not-free-at-all Microsoft stack - one for which they’ll pay more and more the deeper they get into SharePoint”

Yep, It's a tried and true software practice, give away a basic version and charge for the pro version. One difference here though is WSS 3.0 is more than just a basic version. Organizations can go a long way on just WSS 3.0.

But there's a one-two-punch with SharePoint: the recession. Even buying the full SharePoint Server software licenses is much cheaper than many vertical ISV enterprise applications. And the costs can be spread out over time because SharePoint applications can be built incrementally, essentially giving IT organizations an option to still accomplish their goals while living in 2009 budget challenging times.

I'm also increasingly seeing the impact SharePoint is having on product companies. In addition to my SharePoint projects, I'm having more engagements with product companies working to figure out how their products will integrate with and leverage SharePoint. And with the increasingly important role SharePoint plays as a platform for Microsoft Office 2010, it's a smart thing for product companies to figure out now.

SharePoint has a lot going for it at the moment and there doesn't appear any reason on the horizon for that to change.

Note: Also check out my podcast interview with Sarah Haase, SharePoint collaboration manager at BestBuy.com.

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