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11/11/2010
03:41 PM
Kurt Marko
Kurt Marko
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SharePoint and Office 2010: Evolutionary Tweaks?

2010 was another milestone year for Microsoft's productivity applications and enterprise collaboration software, Office, Exchange and SharePoint. Like cicadas emerging from hibernation, Redmond updates these cash cows every three or four years. Like their hardware compadre Intel, seem to have adopted a 'tick-tock' strategy for their revision cycle, with alternate releases focusing on either major, fundamental architectural changes or more subtle improvements to the plumbing -- tweaks to the clie

2010 was another milestone year for Microsoft's productivity applications and enterprise collaboration software, Office, Exchange and SharePoint. Like cicadas emerging from hibernation, Redmond updates these cash cows every three or four years. Like their hardware compadre Intel, seem to have adopted a 'tick-tock' strategy for their revision cycle, with alternate releases focusing on either major, fundamental architectural changes or more subtle improvements to the plumbing -- tweaks to the client-side UI or management consoles, internal code changes to improve server performance and scalability, and general cleanup of features and bugs not quite ironed out in the previous version.In reexamining SharePoint and Office for an upcoming InformationWeek product review, the 2010 editions have that fit that evolutionary, 'tock' feel about them. They've both been out long enough for the initial hype to have worn off, hype that Microsoft is second to none (well, perhaps only to Jobs) at generating, allowing a clearer, more dispassionate estimation of their true merits. Without going through the full feature laundry list (you'll have to wait for the final article for that), I don't see many (if any) dramatic new features, but plenty of improvements to big things introduced in '07. Sure the Web versions of Office garnered plenty of press, but these are largely me-too, catch-up efforts that are hardly notable when compared to their online competitors like Google Apps or Zoho. That said, everything about both products appears much more polished.

We've all heard the implementation horror stories about the torturous migration from SP 2003 to 2007 and the IT support nightmare from users flummoxed by the Office '07 ribbon or blindsided by compatibility headaches when exchanging documents in the new OOXML format with colleagues on older versions. Now that the 2010 products have been out a while, I would be interested to hear from you to see what sort of issues you faced in migrating your SharePoint infrastructure or upgrading Office users.

Did the new SharePoint help or hurt the load on your servers? Is SP 2010 easier to administer or does it require additional training to learn the new nomenclature, features and different ways of doing old tasks? Did end users migrating to the new Office face any unintended consequences or unexpected glitches?

I suspect a significant factor in how people answer these questions is whether they skipped the 2007 rounds for one or both products and are now just facing the major changes they avoided three years ago? For those who have waited, is a migration to the 2010 products in your plans or are you using this as an opportunity to evaluate cloud-based collaboration services? For those who bit the bullet three years ago, do you see any advantages to upgrading again? If so, do you feel it will be a major effort or a smooth transition?

Look for my answers to these questions next month in InformationWeek.

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