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SharePoint 2016 To Get First Showing in May at Microsoft Ignite

An "early version" of Microsoft's SharePoint Server 2016 product will be unveiled at the company's Ignite conference in May, according to Bill Baer, senior product manager for SharePoint at Microsoft.

SharePoint 2016 is currently at an early development stage, Baer said during a podcast this week that was hosted and produced by Todd Klindt, a SharePoint MVP and SharePoint principal architect at Rackspace. Traditionally, Microsoft has released betas of new products before its tradeshow events. For Ignite, however, Baer said Microsoft will use an "early version" of SharePoint 2016 in many of its presentations, with further details about the product being revealed after the event.

Microsoft will provide an early look at SharePoint 2016 at Ignite and will have specific sessions on what's new, as well as something on "hybrid search," Baer said. Those details are outlined in a "Top 3 sessions" blog post by Baer.

Also at Ignite, Microsoft plans to describe the evolution of its hybrid strategy for organizations, Baer said. A hybrid approach combines the use of SharePoint 2016 on premises and Office 365 services accessed over the Internet. Office 365 includes the SharePoint Online service, which runs off Microsoft's cloud computing infrastructure.

Baer joked during the podcast that he hadn't heard complaints about the SharePoint Server patch process. The current process is convoluted enough, but was recently compounded by Microsoft's announcement this month that it will now push SharePoint Server updates through its Windows Update service.

The prospect of untested patches getting automatically pushed into SharePoint Server farms may seem unnerving, but Baer suggested that Microsoft had some improvements up its sleeve. He hypothesized about a more perfect world where Microsoft could deliver a patch to SharePoint Servers and organizations would experience "zero downtime" during the update process. He said he thought that many people would be happy using the Windows Update service to patch SharePoint Server under such conditions. This notion is but a first step in Microsoft's long-term attempt to improve the patch process, he added, without elaborating.

Baer said that attention to SharePoint Server has gotten somewhat eclipsed over the years by Microsoft's Office 365 announcements. People even started to wonder whether SharePoint Server was going away, he added, but Microsoft is on the eve of getting out another release with SharePoint 2016.

Microsoft MVPs seem to agree with that view that SharePoint Server is here to stay -- at least based on the opinions expressed in a recent "Tweetjam" discussion. Microsoft has previously indicated that the SharePoint Server 2016 product will see light of day in the second half of this year.

The new SharePoint 2016 product is getting built based on Microsoft's Office 365 learnings, which provide lessons in scalability, as well as from feedback provided by testers, Baer explained. The feedback is collected in this "User Voice" portal. Currently, the top User Voice suggestions are advocating things like building responsive design into SharePoint, having cross-site collection navigation and bringing back the visual designer in SharePoint Designer.

Another User Voice request is to add "a full-featured forms editor to replace InfoPath." Baer had a few words to say about the InfoPath forms feature, which Microsoft plans to deprecate. He said that InfoPath will be a feature in SharePoint 2016. What Microsoft means by deprecating a feature is that the feature "won't be advanced" in the next product, Baer explained. He wouldn't say what else might be in line for deprecation in SharePoint as Microsoft isn't yet at the product stage to comment.

Baer was asked about the future of the Stsadm command-line tool for use with SharePoint Server. He said that PowerShell was more of the direction where Microsoft wants to head, without elaborating.

Ignite will combine the content from various Microsoft events. Baer said there still will be lots of SharePoint content at the show, but it may get mixed among the sessions. A search at Microsoft's Ignite event site listed 54 total SharePoint Server and SharePoint Online-related sessions.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.