Microsoft's Ballmer shows off SharePoint and cites IT's link to economic prosperity

The Microsoft CEO appeared at SharePoint conference to discuss the upgrade to the company's collaboration platform

Amid hailing the company's launch Monday of its SharePoint 2010 collaboration platform, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the IT industry can help propel economic recovery.

Ballmer, appearing at the SharePoint Conference 2009 in Las Vegas, noted he has had to talk about the economy a lot lately but did not want to do that today. Instead, he stressed IT as an economic booster.

[ In dual announcements today, Microsoft detailed the feature-complete SharePoint upgrade and said it will offer a second beta of Visual Studio 2010. ]

"I'm going to remind you of one thing and one thing alone: That at the end of the day, the only thing that's going to enable growth and prosperity is advances in productivity and innovation, and the IT industry is going to propel a lot of that," Ballmer said.

"[During] the next five, the next 10 years, the challenge to transform the world through technology is as great today as any time certainly since I've been at Microsoft, which is almost 30 years now," said Ballmer.

The world is moving from PCs staring at a datacenter or the Internet to information being available on multiple devices ranging from phones to PCs and television sets, with the enterprise, datacenter, and Internet uniting in cloud computing, said Ballmer. "That's a major transformation," he said. There will be new interfaces such as vice and natural language interfaces, he added.

SharePoint, Ballmer said, "is one of my favorite products at Microsoft" and is at the center of innovation at the company, he said.

"A lot of what people want to do is about sharing information, finding information, getting insight out of information," and acting on information, Ballmer said, announcing the availability of the public beta of SharePoint 2010 technology. SharePoint Server 2010 is due next year.

Ballmer and other Microsoft officials appearing onstage cited capabilities in the 2010 platform, including a new UI, business intelligence, and intentions to make SharePoint accessible from multiple browsers and phones. It can be used in applications such as payroll management, executive dashboards, and citizen management.

"We continue to see SharePoint as the ultimate Swiss Army Knife, the thing does wikis to workflow, blogs to business intelligence, really the whole gamut of tools for people to collaborate on the Web," said Jeff Teper, Microsoft corporate vice president for SharePoint.

SharePoint 2010 also features integration with the Visual Studio 2010 software development platform, governance capabilities, and a simpler upgrade procedure via the Visual Upgrade function. Microsoft also offers its cloud version of SharePoint, called SharePoint Online.

Microsoft with the 2010 version of SharePoint appears to have listened to feedback concerning the 2007 release of the product, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, said conference attendee Gregory Romaniuk, browser technology team lead with the Alberta Teachers Association in Edmonton.

"It looks like things are moving in the right direction for integration with various Web browsers and client and server things," Romaniuk said.

Keeping things up to date has been an issue with the 2007 product, he said. "From what they said, I think they're going to try to simplify that," said Romaniuk.

SharePoint 2010 products include:

  • SharePoint Foundation, with base-level SharePoint platform capabilities
  • SharePoint Server, offering full-featured capabilities such as social networking, content management, data management
  • Fast Search for SharePoint, for high-end search capabilities
  • Fast Search for Internet Business, for high-end search of Internet sites
  • SharePoint Designer, for designing SharePoint sites without coding
  • SharePoint Workspace, for offline capabilities
  • SharePoint Server for Internet Sites, for Web content management and social computing on the Internet

Microsoft on Monday also detailed its PowerPivot for Excel and PowerPivot for SharePoint product line, for dealing with large volumes of data.

This story, "Microsoft's Ballmer shows off SharePoint and cites IT's link to economic prosperity," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in Microsoft at InfoWorld.com.

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