First look: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 beta spreads the wealth
Major upgrade to Microsoft's Web site, intranet, and collaboration platform offers numerous and significant improvements for end-users, IT professionals, and developers
[ SharePoint 2010 will integrate closely with Microsoft Office 2010 and the new Office Web Apps. See "Office 2010 looks solid and smooth" and "Office suites in the cloud: Microsoft Office Web Apps versus Google Docs and Zoho." ]
The only quibble I have with this control is that it does not strip out the verbose and unnecessary styles created by Word when pasting Word documents into SharePoint pages and converting them to HTML. Good HTML isn't that hard to generate, and a filter for Word styles isn't that hard to write. I'd love to see this improved for the final product or a point release.
While not everyone has embraced the Office 2007 ribbon user interface wholeheartedly, it is by now familiar to most white-collar workers. The pervasive but context-sensitive implementation of the ribbon interface in SharePoint 2010 gives the entire product a cohesive feel while exposing large numbers of related functions together for each context.
Easy as wiki
HTML was never intended to be a writer-friendly markup language; the original designers of HTML assumed that it would always be generated by an editing tool. Wikis, on the other hand, were always intended to be easy to write. SharePoint 2010 supports wiki markup (specifically, MediaWiki-compatible links) and wiki-style WYSIWYG editing pretty much everywhere. In some ways, SharePoint 2010 is easier to use as a wiki than many wikis, although the size, expense, and breadth of SharePoint add up to overkill when a simple wiki will serve.
SharePoint has long supported some international sites, but now it fully supports a multilingual user interface, with dozens of languages supplied out of the box. In addition, it supportsr configuring fields within lists for multiple languages, as well as translations of user content.
Meta data, in the form of tags, formal taxonomies, user-created folksonomies, and bookmarks, add another dimension of classification to site navigation and content-based search. SharePoint 2010 supports all of these and can use them for targeting list content to specific audiences, for routing documents to specific libraries and folders, for displaying tag clouds, and for searching.
In addition to tagging, documents can be organized into document sets. The confusing proliferation of document versions that often happens in collaboration sites can now be controlled by declaring specific documents "in-place records," which are basically locked official files. Locking a file doesn't prevent future collaboration; it just marks and preserves that version of the document as "official." The in-place record can exist side by side with other versions of the same document.
SharePoint 2010 search comes in three levels: free, standard, and FAST Search. The last is an enhanced enterprise search engine based on the acquisition of FAST ESP. It searches SharePoint content in addition to content in file shares, Microsoft Exchange folders, databases, and connected line-of-business systems. The FAST Search results page shows document thumbnails with previews, people matches, and counts for search refinements by result type, site, author, and date.
You'd think that SharePoint was an online-only product, but Microsoft hasn't neglected occasionally connected mobile users. SharePoint Workspace 2010 is a desktop/laptop client, based on the software formerly known as Microsoft Office Groove; it provides a synchronized offline experience. I did not test this capability.