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6/20/2007
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Microsoft Adds Web 2.0 Enhancements To SharePoint

Microsoft is unveiling a series of upgrades and additions to SharePoint that it believes will appeal to business users as well as to individual consumers.

Microsoft sees a big role for Web 2.0 technologies -- mashups, wikis, blogs, RSS sites, My Sites, and unified communications -- in the business world and the company is delivering them under the broad umbrella of its SharePoint structure, according to a presentation at Enterprise 2.0.

"A lot of these features have been in the enterprise for years," said Derek Burney, manager, SharePoint Platform & Tools. "For instance, My Site has been around for five years." The personal biography site looks suspiciously similar to a rudimentary MySpace.com posting.

Microsoft is unveiling a series of upgrades and additions to SharePoint that it believes will appeal to business users as well as to individual consumers.

"We've learned that SharePoint has to be compelling to IT people -- they want to save money -- and it must deliver instant productivity to individuals," he added in an interview. Microsoft has created a series of add-ons and plug-ins designed to appeal to individual users and to businesses seeking to develop closer relationships with customers, partners, and suppliers.

Burney said SharePoint is crossing generations by addressing the "20-somethings", who are bringing new features, as well as older IT personnel, who are also bringing technology to SharePoint. Taking note of the importance of traditional computing approaches, Burney said 80% of corporate information is stored on disk drives and many of those drives are operated by retiring baby boomers; it's important to be able to access that stored data.

Almost on cue, developers -- many of them voluntary -- unveiled sweeping enhancements this week via a Community Kit for SharePoint Version 5. The effort is delivering a set of new practices, templates, Web parts, tools, and assorted source code. Burney noted that the new features included enhanced blog and wiki editions as well as improved an Ajax capability that enables chat rooms.

Burney, who is a former CEO of Corel Software, said many of the features of the social networking phenomenon -- like its "always on, always connected" feature -- are being adopted by business IT users as enterprises adopt Web 2.0 tools. Also important and fitting neatly under the aegis of SharePoint is unified communications, which was examined and dissected at Enterprise 2.0 this week.

Burney noted that Microsoft already boasts of customer sites that have been built around Sharepoint. Hawaiian Airlines, for instance, used SharePoint Server 2007 to develop its main user site. In addition, the Body Shop, a women's skincare firm, uses Sharepoint to stay in touch with its clientele.

Burney believes the next generation of social networking features will enhance profits for businesses that install them. He admitted it's somewhat difficult to judge the world's acceptance of SharePoint because it is still in its infancy. However, he was recently heartened when he attended a SharePoint gathering in Germany in Berlin where 2,000 attendees showed up. A year ago just 500 attended the German show.

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