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|Office 2010 Powers Next Wave on Microsoft Product Roadmap|
|Monday, 10 May 2010|
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Many of the products discussed here have previously been branded "Office" and presented as part of an "Office System" of products. This practice has changed with the 2010 versions: most of these products will drop the prefix in their 2010 versions. Microsoft will continue to call the Office suite itself Microsoft Office with an edition name (e.g., Microsoft Office Professional Plus.) In addition, some previous Office products have been discontinued or merged. (See "Office Product Name Changes" on page XX.)
Office 2010: Better SharePoint Hooks, Many Small Improvements
Office 2010 is the latest version of the Office suite, Microsoft's widely used client application for business. The suite enables document editing, data access, e-mail, presentations, and collaboration. It ships in multiple editions that include combinations of the following applications:
Several Office 2010 features work with documents stored in SharePoint 2010 sites. For example, a coauthoring feature for Word, Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote 2010 documents enables multiple users to edit a document at the same time. With SharePoint Workspace, the successor to Groove, users can take SharePoint documents and data lists offline, make changes, and synchronize them back to a SharePoint site. PowerPoint 2010 users are also able to send synchronized slide shows to multiple users over the Web via a new SharePoint component called the PowerPoint Broadcast Service. Office 2010 editions offered through volume licensing also deliver licenses for Office Web Apps, a set of SharePoint add-ons that enable users of supported browsers to edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or OneNote documents hosted on SharePoint sites, even if the users do not have Office 2010 installed. (Microsoft also plans an advertising-supported service for consumers based on Office Web Apps.) With a PowerPivot, a free analytic add-on, Excel 2010 users can summarize large data sets from disparate sources, create reports and charts for exploring the data, and publish the results to other users via SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services and SharePoint Server 2010. Outlook 2010 also has features (such as its new Conversation View for organizing mail threads) that depend on or work best with Exchange Server 2010.
Some new Office 2010 features do not require server upgrades. Notably, the suite delivers user interface changes intended to streamline repetitive tasks and make important features more visible and accessible to users. Among these are the Backstage, a new multi-page interface that centralizes and streamlines document handling tasks such as creating, printing, saving, and sharing documents. All core Office applications including Outlook get the Ribbon, a tabbed interface introduced for some applications in Office 2007 that groups common, related tasks together in a row of large icons. With Office 2010, users can personalize the Ribbon on a per-application basis by creating custom tabs and custom groups for frequently used commands. Along with the Ribbon come other features of the Fluent user interface introduced with Office 2007, such as Galleries, menus for choosing among the most common combinations of command options.
Office 2010 also includes a 64-bit edition that enables applications to exploit more than 4GB of memory, which could particularly benefit Excel users working on large spreadsheets and complex calculations. However, Office 2010’s 64-bit edition is not compatible with some existing customizations such as macros and add-ins. (The 32-bit edition of Office will run on either the 32- or 64-bit version of Windows.)
Individual applications in Office 2010 are improved in many small ways. For example, a new Excel charting option called the Sparkline is a tiny chart that nests inside a cell and visually represents data in a range of other cells that contain data such as seasonal changes. Outlook’s Quick Steps feature can apply multiple actions to an e-mail, such as automatically moving it to a particular folder or forwarding it to a group of people, in a single step. A new embedded photo editor will help clean up pictures and other graphical content inside Office documents. On its own, no single improvement will make the case for Office 2010; however, each user in an organization is likely to find one or more improvements to be valuable.
All customers will have to activate Office 2010 licenses, even customers who acquire the product through volume license agreements. Customers can activate Office licenses with the same activation infrastructure (Multiple Activation Keys or the Key Management System) as the Windows OS.
SharePoint 2010 Enhances Office Sharing, Search, and More
SharePoint is a Web application platform and a suite of applications and components built on the platform for functions such as team collaboration, corporate portal hosting, enterprise search, content management, and business intelligence. The main products in the SharePoint 2010 version of the lineup are the free SharePoint Foundation (formerly called Windows SharePoint Services) and SharePoint Server (formerly Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and often referred to by the acronym MOSS). SharePoint technology is also used in the Search Server enterprise search product, which is being updated at the same time, as well as in a new high-end enterprise search product called FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint (also called FAST for SharePoint). A free client tool called SharePoint Designer enables users and developers to customize SharePoint sites.
SharePoint 2010 is a major release with many improvements, most notably in the following areas:
Office document sharing. As described above, SharePoint 2010 delivers new features for sharing Office 2010 documents, including Office Web Apps, coauthoring (concurrent access to documents), offline synchronization, and PowerPoint broadcast Web conferencing.
Search. SharePoint Server 2010 can improve the relevance of search results; for example, it analyzes clickthrough data from searches to identify the most relevant pages for a search term. Several features help users refine their queries—for example, they can filter results by content type, location, or custom properties (such as a product taxonomy) supplied by the organization. Microsoft says that scalability has improved: a SharePoint 2010 search system with sufficiently powerful hardware can index twice as many items (up to 100 million) as SharePoint 2007 could. With SharePoint 2010, Microsoft has also introduced FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint (FAST for SharePoint), which uses the acquired FAST technology for core search while using SharePoint Server 2010 for user and administrative interfaces and some other features. FAST for SharePoint provides granular controls for users, administrators, and developers to tune and customize search results and can index more than 500 million items.
Social computing. As with SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010 users can create personal collaboration sites (called My Sites) and control access to those sites based on a Facebook-like "social graph" of relationships with colleagues. A status update mechanism (analogous to Facebook status updates or Twitter messages) for broadcasting short messages and an activity feed page that consolidates a status updates and other activities keep one’s colleagues informed. Users can rate and comment on SharePoint and other Web content with a system of annotated, shareable bookmarks (similar to consumer-focused Web sites such as Digg and Delicious). The updated SharePoint People Search feature uses data generated by these mechanisms to locate users who have expertise on particular topics. Separately, a free Social Connector add-in enables Outlook 2010 users to see their contacts' photos, contact information, and status updates from SharePoint, Facebook, and other sources.
Web platform improvements. The SharePoint 2010 Web platform for end users includes an enhanced browser interface with an Office-like Ribbon and improved tools for editing Web pages, style sheets, and other Web content in SharePoint.
Content management. Mechanisms for organizing, searching, and archiving documents and other SharePoint content, as well as for enforcing policies about how content is retained and discarded have been improved for SharePoint Server 2010. For example, a managed metadata service enables organizations to centrally define vocabularies of content properties to help organize and classify content, while new document ID services enable organizations to assign permanent IDs to documents and find them regardless of their locations in a SharePoint installation. Users and applications can flag content as corporate records and place legal holds on content anywhere in a SharePoint site to control content retention and deletion; these operations previously only worked on content that had first been moved into a special Records Center. SharePoint Server 2010 also can automatically enforce complex policies for retaining content, such as multistage disposition policies in which content moves from working status to deletion in a series of predefined steps. However, some content management mechanisms do not cover some SharePoint content (such as social bookmarks), nor do they work with content stored outside SharePoint.
Business intelligence. As noted above, both SharePoint Server 2010 and SharePoint Foundation can host Excel Web App, which enables spreadsheet editing and viewing in a browser and supports some Excel 2010 features (such as Sparkline embedded charts). Browser users can analyze large data sets in Excel spreadsheets stored in SharePoint Server 2010 and built with PowerPivot, the new analytic technology delivered with SQL Server 2008 R2 (explained above). SharePoint Server's scorecard capabilities for tracking business unit performance have been enhanced with technology from PerformancePoint Monitoring, a component of the discontinued PerformancePoint Server product. A new Access Services component enables Access developers to create databases, forms, and reports that are hosted on SharePoint Server 2010 and accessible to users in a browser. Similarly, a new Visio Services component supports Web-based diagram and data viewing through SharePoint Server 2010: browser users cannot draw Visio diagrams, but they are able to view and refresh diagrams that include data drawn from data sources (such as a map of an organization's data center with current server status).
Scalability, availability, and administration. A new service architecture, multitenant features, and other improvements will help SharePoint 2010 handle larger numbers of users and volumes of content. Improved support for SQL Server’s high availability features and enhanced backup and recovery utilities could help reduce downtime, while improved logging and log analysis tools will help organizations analyze feature usage and spot misconfigurations and other problems. A substantially expanded PowerShell interface will enable organizations to script most administrative procedures, which in turn will promote efficiency and standardization. Despite the improvements, many organizations will still rely on third-party utilities for backup and other administrative tasks, and important limits on scale (such as a 2GB limit on file size) have not been raised in SharePoint 2010.
Development. Business Connectivity Services, a successor to the SharePoint Business Data Catalog feature, links SharePoint 2010 to data in systems outside of SharePoint, such as an organization’s line-of-business applications, enabling SharePoint 2010 and Office 2010 users to view, update, and search data in these systems. SharePoint Designer development tools for Business Connectivity Services are major improvements over those that were available for the Business Data Catalog, as well as improved versions of the site customization and workflow tools delivered in earlier SharePoint Designer versions. Visual Studio 2010 delivers tools for building, packaging, and deploying custom applications to SharePoint 2010. On SharePoint 2010, a custom application can run in sandboxed mode that limits usage of resources (such as processor time) and restricts access to data (such as the file system), limiting the damage a runaway application might cause.
SharePoint 2010 requires 64-bit editions of SQL Server (2005 SP3 or later) and Windows Server (2008 or later). SharePoint 2010 sites are not compatible with Internet Explorer (IE) 6; however, they work with IE 7, Firefox 3, and Safari 3 and later versions of these three browsers, although IE and Firefox on Windows will have some features not available on other OSs. These requirements also apply to products that depend on SharePoint 2010, notably Project Server 2010 (described below).
Project and Project Server Enhance Visibility, Scheduling
The Project family of client applications and server products provide project management and project portfolio management (evaluation and tracking of sets of projects).The Project 2010 line includes the following products:
The formerly separate Portfolio Server product for portfolio management has been merged into Project Server 2010 and is no longer available as a separate product.
Microsoft calls Project Professional plus Project Server (and formerly Project Portfolio Server) its Enterprise Project Management solution.
Project Server 2010 runs on and requires SharePoint Server 2010; the previous version required only Windows SharePoint Services, a free add-on for Windows Server. Project Server clients include Project Professional Edition and, for some functions, browsers that use the Project Web Access feature, based on SharePoint.
Notable updates in the 2010 versions include the following:
Ribbon and Fluent user interface. Project Standard and Professional 2010 are the first versions to use the Ribbon as well as other features of the Fluent user interface.
Timeline summary view. A Timeline View provides collapsed and configurable sequential overview of project schedules. The view can be configured to show project milestones in a different color to indicate that adjustment is needed, such as allocating more resources or rescheduling some sub-tasks. The Timeline View can be useful for sharing high-level project schedule status with responsible managers or other project teams who may not need all the details and complex relationships displayed by full Gantt charts.
Portfolio management features help managers compare the return on investment of projects and understand how well projects serve organizational goals. For example, a new resource capacity planner checks a proposed project against other projects and available resources and identifies resource surpluses or deficits. Portfolio managers can provide information about projects, such as cost, criticality, expected benefits, and risks, and the planner will optimize the portfolio by selecting projects to minimize cost versus value. These features require Project Server 2010.
Visio 2010 Improves Layout, Adds SharePoint Service
Visio provides diagram layout tools and libraries of shapes to help non-graphics-professionals create diagrams, such as flowcharts, network drawings, and office layouts, often with interconnecting lines that adapt to changes in layout. Visio is also a platform for developing custom and vertical computer-aided design applications (for example, for designing and pricing building heating systems). Visio diagrams can integrate external data sources, such as databases or spreadsheet files, using data-graphing capabilities; this enables (for example) users to create an automatically updated building drawing with data about office occupants derived from a directory.
Visio 2010 comes in three editions: Standard, Professional, and a new Premium edition. Also new is Visio Services for SharePoint for browser access to Visio diagrams. Notable improvements to the products include the following.
Ribbon and Fluent user interface. Visio 2010 is the first version to use the Ribbon as well as other features of the Fluent user interface.
Simpler layout. Visio 2010 includes an infinitely expanding workspace—it automatically expands a diagram by one printer page if shapes are inserted or moved outside edges of the current page. A new Auto Align & Space button automatically rearranges shapes and connectors to clean up diagrams and straighten connectors. A Quick Shapes mini-toolbar makes it easier to create diagrams quickly by suggesting a shape to insert when hovering over a connect point.
Business process validation and new diagram types. Visio is commonly used for designing and maintaining business processes such as workflows that conform to standardized rules. Visio 2010 Premium adds validation—it can validate process diagrams against standard or custom rules and warn the author about errors. Visio 2010 Premium includes new templates and validation rules for SharePoint workflows, Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN, a standardized graphical representation of business processes in a workflow), and Six Sigma processes.
Visio Services for visualizing data. Visio Services, a feature of SharePoint Server 2010, provides some access to Visio diagrams via a user’s Web browser. Similar to the SharePoint Server Excel Services component, Visio Services supports diagram and data viewing: browser users cannot draw diagrams, but they are able to view and refresh diagrams that include data drawn from data sources. For example, an organization might publish a diagram that shows the current status of servers in a data center; administrators could view the diagram in a browser and periodically refresh it. Visio Services promises to enable expert authors to design data-driven diagrams and share them with a larger set of users, enabling users without Visio to make decisions based on the latest data drawn from a company's centralized databases.
Integration Improves Capabilities, Complicates Evaluation
In general, each of the new products described above has improvements worth evaluating, particularly for organizations that have skipped previous versions. However, many of the most interesting new capabilities require upgrades of multiple products. (See the illustration "2010 Product Relationships" on page XX.) For example, the Office Web Apps and coauthoring features for group work on Office documents require SharePoint 2010, which in turn requires 64-bit Windows Server 2008 (or later), 64-bit SQL Server 2005 (or later), and a recent browser version on the client. Similarly, the PowerPivot feature could substantially simplify analysis of large data sets by Excel users and enable them to share their work with browser users, but its full capabilities require Excel 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, SQL Server 2008 R2, and their prerequisites.
Many organizations will want to start by evaluating each product's new version in isolation, taking into account which version they have already deployed, and what they have already licensed through programs such as Software Assurance. Organizations that do want to evaluate the products together might want to start with SharePoint 2010: it is required for new Office 2010 collaboration features and the Office Web Apps, as well as the new Visio Services feature for distributing diagram-based reports to browser users. SharePoint Server 2010 also helps centrally distribute and manage spreadsheets created with PowerPivot, although it is not required. Finally, SharePoint Server 2010 is a prerequisite for Project Server 2010. Consequently, organizations evaluating the 2010 releases discussed here might want to decide on their SharePoint plans first, then make plans for other releases with SharePoint in mind.
Likely release and retirement plans for Office, SharePoint, Project, Visio, and other enterprise products will be outlined in more detail in the July 2010 issue of the quarterly Enterprise Software Roadmap.
Office 2010 without server upgrades is evaluated in the May 2010 Research Report "Office 2010 on the Desktop".
Office Web Apps and other new document-sharing capabilities are outlined in "Document Sharing with Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010" on page 3 of the Jan. 2010 Update.
SharePoint Server 2010 search enhancements are explained in more detail in "Enterprise Search in SharePoint 2010" on page 3 of the May 2010 Update.
New SharePoint content management capabilities are summarized in" "SharePoint 2010 Enhances Content Management" on page 3 of the Mar. 2010 Update.
Social computing and other SharePoint collaboration improvements are explained in "SharePoint Server Enhances Web Collaboration" on page 8 of the Jan. 2010 Update.
The PowerPivot analytic technology is analyzed in "PowerPivot Strengthens Analytics in Excel, SharePoint 2010" on page 21 of the May 2010 Update.
Project and Project Server 2010 are evaluated in more detail in "Project 2010 Previewed" on page 5 of the Nov. 2009 Update.
Visio 2010 and Visio Services are summarized in "Visio 2010 Gains Ribbon, SharePoint Service" on page 10 of the May 2010 Update.>