What will NOT be in the next version of SharePoint

I might catch a lot of readers with that title, but of course I don’t really know for sure what will and won’t be in the next version of SharePoint.  Microsoft is still mum on the topic and I suspect will remain so until the SharePoint Conference slated for October.  This event was held in March last year; it seems logical it has been delayed this year to time the event with Office 14 announcements specific to SharePoint.

I read Guy Creese’s post last week on what he thinks will be in the next version of SharePoint and like Guy, I get a lot of questions in this vein.  I agree with Guy that SharePoint.next will have search improvements (we already know that one) and more sophisticated administration (we all hope). I’ll be surprised to see dramatic improvements in the transition between hosted and on-premise SharePoint in this version, I think the marketing is likely to lead the reality in this area for sometime to come, but perhaps I’ll be surprised.

I often get questions more specifically (from vendors) around what Microsoft isn’t going to do and reading Guy’s post, I thought it would be interesting to comment on what’s left out.

On the social software front…

There’s been some debate of late about whether or not SharePoint is an “Enterprise 2.0” tool at all (or what, in fact, that even means, if anything). But anyone who saw Lawrence Liu pitch SharePoint versus IBM Lotus Connections to a packed room at Enterprise 2.0 last year, would certainly assume Microsoft has ambitions in this area.  It’s worth noting however that Liu left Microsoft not long after that for Telligent Systems, which sells community software as an adjunct to SharePoint.  Liu presumably knows more about the SharePoint roadmap than we do, so looking at Telligent’s roadmap (limited version here) is probably a good indication of where Microsoft won’t go in social software in this next release (think community analytics, bridging internal and external communities, and feed aggregation).

It’s not about WCM.

Making SharePoint ubiquitous for content-based collaboration is Microsoft’s number one goal and this means improved admin, search and social software, to my mind.   So what will get left out?   I don’t think we’ll see any major changes on the WCM front.  Microsoft marketed the WCM capabilities in MOSS 2007 when it first came out, as it stopped development on its stand-alone WCM product, Microsoft CMS (which came from its 2001 acquisition of nCompass) in favor of Sharepoint.  But this seems to have died down and vendors like Sitecore are doing well selling more sophisticated WCM with SharePoint integrations, apparently with cooperation from Microsoft.  WCM for large, customer-facing sites, is really not where SharePoint strengths lie and Microsoft will likely let this one stand much as it is as it invests in other areas (Sitecore even sells a bundle for intranets, showing some market opportunity for WCM even in SharePoint’s sweet spot).

What about records management and archiving?

There’s some records management today in SharePoint, but it’s limited to SharePoint environments.  Improved admin across server farms could help here but it doesn’t seem likely Microsoft is going to go far beyond this and this doesn’t address the archiving issue at all.  Vendors like Open Text, Symantec and EMC are banking on their products’ abilities to manage and archive content (including email) from multiple repositories including SharePoint.  And this seems like a market that will be relatively immune to changes in SharePoint.next — indeed, changes that make SharePoint more popular are likely only good news to these vendors, at least in the short term.

I’m sure there are other gaps vendors are filling where they may be some continued opportunity after SharePoint.next, but those are the big ones that jump to my  mind.

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#1 Lawrence Liu (Telligent) on 03.16.09 at 2:09 pm

Please don’t speculate (too much) about SharePoint 14/vFuture features based on Telligent’s (subject to change without notice) product roadmap. 🙂

#2 Michael Hickins on 03.17.09 at 8:38 am

Kathleen, I would have guessed the opposite: that Telligent is going exactly where Microsoft is headed, so that it can offer complementary solutions. Your implicit assumption is that Lawrence left Microsoft because he didn’t think they were headed in the right direction; that’s a tough bet to take. I would bet he agreed with the direction they’re headed in, and figured he stood more to gain personally by moving to Telligent.
Ah, tea leaves.

#3 Kathleen Reidy on 03.17.09 at 8:44 am

Thanks for the comments guys. I agree that Telligent is most likely looking to complement SharePoint, filling in community-related gaps with more application-level functionality. I didn’t mean to imply that Lawrence didn’t agree with Microsoft’s direction, only that he knows what it is better than most 😉

#4 Jose Antonio on 03.19.09 at 4:01 am

I think WSS 3.0 will come with WCM.

#5 Microsoft sheds more light on Office 14 — Too much information on 04.15.09 at 1:34 pm

[…] and be generally available in the first half of 2010.  Beyond that, we still don’t know what will and won’t be in SharePoint.next (though we don’t have to call it that […]

#6 Question time at the Records Management Society Conference « Thinking Records on 04.25.09 at 3:27 am

[…] that there won’t be significant improvements in the records management capabilities.  [see Kathleen Reidy and CMS Wire].  I agree with the analysts:  adding MoReq 2 records management functionality to […]