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3/3/2008
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Microsoft SharePoint Sales To Hit $1 Billion In 2008

SharePoint is a collection of server-side tools and applications that lets businesses make documents and other key data available through a single online portal.

With more companies looking to make critical information easily accessible to and shareable with employees, Microsoft said Monday that it expects total sales of its SharePoint online collaboration software will surpass the $1 billion mark in 2008.

"It's a significant number," said Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, delivering a keynote address Monday in Seattle at the company's Office SharePoint Conference 2008. SharePoint is "based on a vision of letting workers share information in a better way," Gates added.

SharePoint is a collection of server-side tools and applications that allows businesses to make documents and other key data available through a single online portal. Microsoft launched the most recent version, Office SharePoint Server 2007, last year. With that release, the company added a number of new content management and collaboration features to the offering.

"You want to create a product that you can assume everyone in your company has access to," Gates said.

Microsoft said it has now sold more than 100 million SharePoint licenses since launching the product in 2001. Microsoft sold 75 million through the end of 2005 and 25 million more in the last two years -- meaning the suite has enjoyed a compound growth rate in license sales of about 15% over the past two years.

Gates said businesses' interest in, and willingness to buy, collaboration tools has been aided by the availability of cheap processing, storage, and bandwidth that let users economically post huge amounts of information -- such as training videos -- to their intranets. One benefit: It makes worker education less expensive and more efficient. "Only take the part that requires people meeting face to face and working as a group as the part you invest the offsite hours," said Gates.

Microsoft said it now has 2,250 certified SharePoint integration partners and noted that the software is used in a diverse range of environments -- from the Eureka, Mo., fire department to multinational corporations like Monsanto.

SharePoint, however, isn't without its competitors. Last week, Microsoft archrival Google added Google Sites to its Google Apps suite of free and low-cost hosted services. Google Sites is designed to give businesses a quick and easy way to build collaborative intranets. At SharePoint 2008, Gates couldn't resist taking a swipe at his competitor. "In terms of Google, not to overstate it, but they don't really understand the special needs of business," said Gates.

Also Monday, Microsoft unveiled Search Server 2008, a free, downloadable enterprise search product that integrates with SharePoint.

It also announced the availability of Silverlight Blueprint for SharePoint. The offering is designed to make it easier for SharePoint users to add multimedia to their pages using Microsoft's Silverlight Web presentation technology.

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