Ballmer Debuts SharePoint 2010, Beta Next Month

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Monday morning that his company’s premier collaboration solution — SharePoint 2010 — will begin beta testing in November, with final delivery slated for the first half of next year.

Speaking during Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) SharePoint 2010 Conference in Las Vegas today, Ballmer highlighted new features in the release including the addition of the Fluent — AKA “ribbon” — user interface, first introduced in Office 2007.

SharePoint 2010 will also provide deeper integration with Office 2010, including social tagging, backstage integration and document lifecycle management.

“You keep pushing us to provide new capabilities in different ways,” Ballmer told the audience gathered at the conference.

Ballmer also emphasized new support for Silverlight and other streaming media in SharePoint, as well as support for the Office Web Apps coming with Office 2010, also due in final form in the first half of next year.

Office 2010 will also begin formal beta test in November, after beginning a large-scale, invitation-only technology preview in July.

In addition, SharePoint 2010 also will feature the corporate search technology Microsoft acquired when it bought Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) in 2008.

Besides SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010, Project 2010 and Visio 2010 will also begin public beta test in November.

One area that Ballmer repeatedly emphasized is enhanced support for Internet-facing use of SharePoint Server as well as online support, called SharePoint Online Services.

“With SharePoint services in the cloud, we have over a million users signed up for SharePoint Online … [so that] you can mix and match between environments,” Ballmer added. “We’re going to be more Internet-focused and cloud focused than ever before.”

Ballmer also underlined the growing popularity of SharePoint with corporations, stating that the product has now exceeded $1.3 billion in total revenues since it debuted in 2001 — with 20 percent growth in just the past year.

Other features on the way in SharePoint Server 2010 include Business Connectivity Services, which will enable developers to connect to line-of-business data or Web services in SharePoint Server and the Office client, the company said in a statement. In addition, Microsoft will include new tools in Visual Studio 2010 to support SharePoint 2010 coding.

Other Microsoft executives announced what they call Power Pivot, previously codenamed Gemini, also due out next year, that will provide a database capability that lets users search through as many as 100 million rows in Excel.

SharePoint 2010 will only come in a 64-bit version, executives said.

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