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10/8/2012
03:45 PM
Jeff Bertolucci
Jeff Bertolucci
Slideshows

10 Great Social Features For Microsoft SharePoint 2013

Social computing will play a big role in Microsoft's upcoming collaboration platform.




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.


Social computing, including personal sites, feeds, and communities, is just one of many components of SharePoint 2013, which has upgrades across its many modules, including search, document management and sharing, and business intelligence. Yammer, an enterprise social network that Microsoft acquired in July, is part of Redmond's master plan for SharePoint. However, the merger apparently came too late for Yammer integration to be a major focus of SharePoint 2013; rather, Microsoft's latest acquisition remains a standalone product at this time.

RECOMMENDED READING

Microsoft Office 2013 Built For Social Sharing

Microsoft Cracks The Code On Social Software (Finally)

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Adds Compliance Power

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour

Yammer Pops Up As Leader In Gartner Magic Quadrant

Yammer Updates, Partners With HootSuite

NewsGator Prepares To Leapfrog SharePoint Social Streams

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools Leaders Emerge

VMware Socialcast Makes Enterprise Apps More Social


In the 2010 versions of SharePoint Server and Foundation, you could enable user conversations by adding a discussion list to sites. SharePoint 2013 becomes more social by adding new Community Sites and Community Portal templates. Community Sites provides a forum for structuring and encouraging discussions among people across your organization. For instance, you can deploy a site for members of an individual business division, or fill a community with email messages from a distribution list. The Community Portal is enterprise site template that enables users to search for SharePoint sites (or groups of sites) that use the Community Site template.

RECOMMENDED READING

Microsoft Office 2013 Built For Social Sharing

Microsoft Cracks The Code On Social Software (Finally)

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Adds Compliance Power

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour

Yammer Pops Up As Leader In Gartner Magic Quadrant

Yammer Updates, Partners With HootSuite

NewsGator Prepares To Leapfrog SharePoint Social Streams

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools Leaders Emerge

VMware Socialcast Makes Enterprise Apps More Social


The Newsfeed displays information from other users or things that you follow, such as people, documents, sites, and tags. It displays 20 items, sorted in reverse chronological order, just like your favorite social network (go on, pick one). The Newsfeed is just one of several feeds available via My Site. The Everyone feed, for instance, shows the last 20 posts or replies across all users, not just the people you follow. And the Activities feed shows all activity associated with a particular user. Other users can see your Activities feed while browsing your profile or About Me page.

RECOMMENDED READING

Microsoft Office 2013 Built For Social Sharing

Microsoft Cracks The Code On Social Software (Finally)

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Adds Compliance Power

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour

Yammer Pops Up As Leader In Gartner Magic Quadrant

Yammer Updates, Partners With HootSuite

NewsGator Prepares To Leapfrog SharePoint Social Streams

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools Leaders Emerge

VMware Socialcast Makes Enterprise Apps More Social


SharePoint 2013 has enhanced search features, many with a social component. A site administrator can now specify multiple locations where query results should come from, such as your local SharePoint index, an Internet search engine, or both. In addition to displaying contact and organizational information, search results now show authored documents and information on past projects. Upgraded navigational tools include query suggestions based on previous results, and a click-saving "hover panel" shows additional information when you hold the cursor over an item.

RECOMMENDED READING

Microsoft Office 2013 Built For Social Sharing

Microsoft Cracks The Code On Social Software (Finally)

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Adds Compliance Power

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour

Yammer Pops Up As Leader In Gartner Magic Quadrant

Yammer Updates, Partners With HootSuite

NewsGator Prepares To Leapfrog SharePoint Social Streams

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools Leaders Emerge

VMware Socialcast Makes Enterprise Apps More Social


Microsoft's Lync enterprise communications platform has deep hooks into the 2013 versions of SharePoint, OneNote, Outlook, and other Microsoft Office apps. During an online meeting, for instance, Lync highlights a participant's Active Directory identity rather than his or her phone number--a convenient way to see the person's contact information in one view. Lync captures participant lists via Microsoft OneNote--a time-saver for meeting organizers--and allows meeting attendees to share and collaboratively edit notes directly from within Lync. The program extends into Skype too, providing enterprises with a powerful way to communication with clients, colleagues, and potential customers around the world.

RECOMMENDED READING

Microsoft Office 2013 Built For Social Sharing

Microsoft Cracks The Code On Social Software (Finally)

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Adds Compliance Power

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour

Yammer Pops Up As Leader In Gartner Magic Quadrant

Yammer Updates, Partners With HootSuite

NewsGator Prepares To Leapfrog SharePoint Social Streams

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools Leaders Emerge

VMware Socialcast Makes Enterprise Apps More Social


Microsoft calls the Site Mailbox a "central filing cabinet"--a place to store Exchange emails and SharePoint documents, both of which only site members can access and edit. Office 2013 makes it easier to file an email, document, or attachment in a shared project space: simply drag the item it into the Site Mailbox. From the user's perspective, the project documents and emails are stored together; on the back end, however, the content remains in the optimized stores: SharePoint for documents, and Exchange for email.

RECOMMENDED READING

Microsoft Office 2013 Built For Social Sharing

Microsoft Cracks The Code On Social Software (Finally)

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Adds Compliance Power

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour

Yammer Pops Up As Leader In Gartner Magic Quadrant

Yammer Updates, Partners With HootSuite

NewsGator Prepares To Leapfrog SharePoint Social Streams

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools Leaders Emerge

VMware Socialcast Makes Enterprise Apps More Social


Of course, discussions play a key role in SharePoint's new Community Sites. Users can opine on topics both professional and personal. SharePoint provides incentives to promote participation, such as reputation building, likes, gifted badges, and best replies. Here's how it works: You're browsing a community and answer a question posted by your colleague Jenny, who's notified by email of your response. Jenny marks your answer as a best reply, which earns you reputation points and improves your status within the community. The point system is set by each community owner or moderator. The Members page shows your reputation score.

RECOMMENDED READING

Microsoft Office 2013 Built For Social Sharing

Microsoft Cracks The Code On Social Software (Finally)

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Adds Compliance Power

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour

Yammer Pops Up As Leader In Gartner Magic Quadrant

Yammer Updates, Partners With HootSuite

NewsGator Prepares To Leapfrog SharePoint Social Streams

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools Leaders Emerge

VMware Socialcast Makes Enterprise Apps More Social


You're probably familiar with SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage and syncing service that's tightly integrated with Office 2013. But you may not have heard of SkyDrive Pro, the premium version that's optimized for enterprises. Built to be a central hub for work documents, SkyDrive Pro makes it easier to track (via the Followed Documents page) files that matter you to. You also can sync SkyDrive Pro to a local computer, thereby allowing you to work on important documents even when you're offline.

RECOMMENDED READING

Microsoft Office 2013 Built For Social Sharing

Microsoft Cracks The Code On Social Software (Finally)

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Adds Compliance Power

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour

Yammer Pops Up As Leader In Gartner Magic Quadrant

Yammer Updates, Partners With HootSuite

NewsGator Prepares To Leapfrog SharePoint Social Streams

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools Leaders Emerge

VMware Socialcast Makes Enterprise Apps More Social


SharePoint 2013 makes it easier to control multiple project tasks. Rather than going to each project site to review and edit your tasks, you manage them in one location. The My Site page, for instance, has a link in the left-side navigation menu to "Tasks;" you click it to load the My Tasks screen, which aggregates your tasks across all of your groups. Presented in a timeline, the tasks are searchable and grouped by project locations. You can sync tasks to Outlook, too.

RECOMMENDED READING

Microsoft Office 2013 Built For Social Sharing

Microsoft Cracks The Code On Social Software (Finally)

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Adds Compliance Power

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour

Yammer Pops Up As Leader In Gartner Magic Quadrant

Yammer Updates, Partners With HootSuite

NewsGator Prepares To Leapfrog SharePoint Social Streams

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools Leaders Emerge

VMware Socialcast Makes Enterprise Apps More Social


The public section of About Me features a new personal profile with information about your interests and social connections. The People Card includes the usual contact details, as well as your personal photo, activity feeds from SharePoint, status updates, and Facebook and LinkedIn account information.

RECOMMENDED READING

Microsoft Office 2013 Built For Social Sharing

Microsoft Cracks The Code On Social Software (Finally)

Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Adds Compliance Power

Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour

Yammer Pops Up As Leader In Gartner Magic Quadrant

Yammer Updates, Partners With HootSuite

NewsGator Prepares To Leapfrog SharePoint Social Streams

5 Cloud Collaboration Tools Leaders Emerge

VMware Socialcast Makes Enterprise Apps More Social

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