SharePoint, despite its popularity in the enterprise, has never been known as top-notch social computing platform, a reputation that Microsoft hopes to change for the better with the next version of its business collaboration software.
SharePoint 2013 doesn't have an official release date yet, but it's available in the preview version of Office 365 Enterprise, the subscription-based software and services package that includes Microsoft Office's suite of productivity applications and hosted versions of Microsoft's Server lineup, including Exchange Server, Lync Server, and SharePoint Server. Office 2013, which Microsoft unveiled this summer, isn't expected to ship until the first quarter of next year.
Microsoft wants you to know that SharePoint 2013 is all about collaboration in the enterprise.
"Our social journey started with SharePoint 2010, with improved My Sites, social tagging, and more. The next version of SharePoint represents our commitment to social computing. We're bringing familiar social experiences to everything you do in SharePoint," said Bill Baer, SharePoint senior marketing manager, in a Microsoft video that provides a quick overview of SharePoint 2013.
SharePoint's new features are strong influenced by--or in some cases, lifted from--from the top social networks. For instance, the updated My Sites feature has a strong microblogging component, complete with likes, hash tags, app mentions, and other social tools you'll recognize from Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Community sites--discussion forums where enterprise users share information and answer colleagues' questions--bring a similar social feel to collaborative computing.
Sharepoint 2013's People Card contains your contact information, as well as pictures, status updates, and activity feeds from SharePoint, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And SkyDrive Pro, the premium version of Microsoft's cloud storage and syncing service, allows users to share files across SharePoint.
In earlier versions of SharePoint, each user had a profile and a personal site (e.g., My Site). The 2013 version of SharePoint splits My Site into three sections: Newsfeed, SkyDrive, and Sites. (More on each in the slideshow). A global navigation bar provides access to each section. These social features are tightly integrated into SharePoint 2013, so you no longer need to launch a Web browser to access them.
Previously, enterprise social networking on SharePoint required either extensive customization or the use of an add-on product such as NewsGator Social Sites. While still leaving room for third-party products to add features on top of the platform, Microsoft has now made SharePoint more of an enterprise social network in its own right.
What do you think of SharePoint 2013's social features? Click through the slideshow and let us know.