First look: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 beta

By Martin Heller, InfoWorld |  Software

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 is a major upgrade from SharePoint 2007 in several areas. It has a much improved user interface, especially for online editing. It supports more browsers. It does a better job of integrating with Microsoft Office. It provides more opportunities to developers and designers, as well as to shops that might want to consolidate other products (such as blogs and wikis and business applications) with SharePoint.

A Visual Upgrade feature allows gradual conversions of individual subsites from the look of SharePoint 2007 to that of the new SharePoint 2010 at the convenience of the site owners. Sandboxing allows custom code to be deployed with a minimum of risk. Centralized Web administration and rich PowerShell support simplify and speed management tasks. And a centralized "health analyzer" interface provides a farm-wide dashboard.

[ Take InfoWorld's quick visual tours of SharePoint 2010 features: SharePoint 2010: What's new for usersSharePoint 2010: What's new for IT prosSharePoint 2010: What's new for developers ]

Visual Studio 2010 supports a dozen kinds of SharePoint 2010 projects, can deploy both sandboxed and farm-wide custom projects, and can debug code deployed to SharePoint. SharePoint Designer, essentially a customized version of Expression Web, supports site design at a professional level and even allows nonprogrammers to build simple applications. Interfaces via .Net, REST, XML, and JavaScript allow programmers to tie a SharePoint site to line of business applications and databases, as well as to other applications into SharePoint.

For performance reasons, SharePoint 2010 is 64-bit, and it requires 64-bit Windows Server 2008, as well as 64-bit SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008. (SharePoint 2010 also requires .Net 3.5, which is free.) Microsoft announced these parameters last April, so it shouldn't be a surprise, but some companies may need to factor the cost of new hardware and infrastructure into their budget for upgrading SharePoint.

Pricing for SharePoint 2010 has not yet been released. Assuming that Microsoft prices SharePoint 2010 upgrades reasonably and that the projected server consolidation savings outweigh the up-front cost of new 64-bit servers, SharePoint 2010 should be a must-have upgrade for enterprises that currently depend on SharePoint 2007.

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