Review: Microsoft Updates A Solid Server With SharePoint 2010

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Microsoft has done a good job of bringing the server squarely in step with the times with the SharePoint 2010 beta, providing business-oriented social networking features and a new interface

Significantly, all of these tool options were available to me whether I was using Internet Explorer or Firefox (though you should be using a current version of Firefox). I was even able to carry out most tasks from a Mac running Safari.

Nearly every page in SharePoint 2010 works like a wiki, making editing and customisation simple. In addition, tagging is well integrated into the product: Every user, piece of content or bit of code can be tagged, giving users better access to content and making it easier for a developer to pull content from across the entire SharePoint deployment.

SharePoint’s user pages highlight the server’s social networking know-how. In previous versions of SharePoint, a user My Site page was basically a web page about a user. In this beta, user pages look a lot like Facebook pages. Users can add Twitter-like status updates to let colleagues know what they are doing, add notes about relevant topics, and tag and share content from across the site and the web. These pages do a good job of applying social networking capabilities in a business environment, and adding task and project information and tools such as interactive org charts.

SharePoint 2010 also has beefed up its capabilities to work as both a content management system and a document management system. All the tools one would expect (such as check-in check-out) are available, and the in-line editing tools are very good.

Office And Offline Capabilities

A nice new feature in SharePoint adds web versions of Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote). Using these versions, users can view and edit Office content on the SharePoint server even when they are using a system that does not have these applications installed.

Makers of many modern web applications, especially those in the cloud, have been moving toward adding offline capabilities. These are often made available through the HTML 5 standard or rich Internet application platforms such as Adobe Air. In SharePoint 2010, Microsoft is making it possible to work offline, but is doing so using a more classic client/server model.

SharePoint Workspace 2010, currently available as a free download, is a desktop application that may seem familiar to some because it is essentially the old Groove application. Using SharePoint Workspace 2010, I could access and use content on the SharePoint server and continue to work on content even when not connected to the server.