RealTime IT News

Windows SharePoint Services Goes Gold

Microsoft officials unwrapped Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) for Windows Server 2003 customers Wednesday.

The Web-based collaboration tool, renamed from SharePoint Team Services in March, is available for Server 2003 customers today, free of charge, as an add-on component to their existing software suite.

Officials call the new tool the next generation of file serving and collaboration. According to Mike Fitzmaurice on the WSS team, while the software is optimized around individual groups to place any kind of file type, application or discussion thread to get the project done, it's truly suited for the IT guys, who can set guidelines, see who's using the SharePoint and allocate more server space if needed, he said.

"It scales up to tens of thousands of SharePoints," Fitzmaurice said. "They'll be able to see who's using it, or not using it. It takes file storage to a new level and gives people a much more accessible product with no additional setup."

It's the software's ability to draw a fine line between creating an open environment for end-users and letting IT managers draw up parameters that officials feel makes the product a success.

Said Kurt DelBene, Microsoft vice president of information worker servers: "Windows SharePoint Services directly addresses the growing demand for web enabled collaboration by end users, while also giving IT a powerful integrated solution that manages the growing complexity in intranets, reduces administrative cost and improves overall customer satisfaction."

Microsoft plans for WSS to play a "supporting role" in the upcoming iteration of Microsoft Office 2003, the culmination of software, Web services and business tools. Part of the Office System, as the company calls it, the new all-things-for-all-businesses will include the SharePoint Portal Server 2003, which allows the information kept at the SharePoints to be organized, managed, indexed and shared with the entire company if needed.

In May, the company rolled up its real-time communications server (now dubbed Office Live Communications Server) into the Office System. SharePoint Portal Server 2003 will become publicly available Oct. 21.

While WSS is compatible with earlier versions of Office 2003, Fitzmaurice said, because it relies upon the file security features found in IIS 6.0 most of the functionality is lost. Customers can download WSS here.