Last week Windows 8 developer preview was released into the world, users were able to install Windows 8 as their new operating system or install it as a virtual machine. One of the biggest new features of Windows 8 was the Windows phone 7 style front page view, the applications and widget ’tiles’ are made mainly from HTML5 and java which is a new direction for Microsoft, but what does this mean for SharePoint?
So far there has been no word from Microsoft as to what Windows 8 might do for SharePoint, but there have been some theories thrown around the internet as to what the new OS could do for SharePoint. One blogger (http://lncn.eu/eghw)thinks that it could greatly improve the SharePoint experiance. “Making Windows 8 widgets from SharePoint lists will be ideal to show important information to the user: Sales forecasts, New team members, Team workloads, New documents published, Internal news and many more.” This could make SharePoint administration much easier to keep up with on large networks, this wouldn’t just benefit administrators but all users, having lists be updated in tiles, allowing them to read announcements and access new documents directly from the Windows 8 front page, this would greatly improve SharePoint’s userbility in my opinion.
Last weekend it was confirmed that our contracts have been extended for another six months, which is great news. To secure this extension, Michael and i had to write a brief plan saying what we would be doing in those extra 6 months, so I though I would put it in the blog.
There are many areas of Microsoft Office 365 that are still yet to be fully evaluated for use within the university. With the work that we have done in Office 365, only a handful of features are being used in our showcase environment, there are many more features that could be used to improve the SharePoint working environment using Office 365 Enterprise edition.
Over the next 6 months we aim to be involved in heavy research and testing, looking into how the features of Office 365 can be tailored to benefit the different departments within the University.
We will be researching in depth and working with the following features:
- Complex Workflows – To simplify common business processes
- Single Sign On – To keep in step with the current university single sign on
- Flexible branding and customization – To apply University branding to the site
- Audience Targeting
- Development with Info Path, Designer and Workspaces
- My Sites (User Profiles/Personal Online Storage)
- Mobile Phone integration
- Cross platform compatibility
- SharePoint Online site structure
To test Office365 we are considering developing a full working environment for the Online Services team or any other team that might be interested, this would allow us to test the system in real world work environment.
We will also be looking heavily into many different migration methods to find out which method would be best suited. To do this we will be in contact with Microsoft, 3rd party agents and their clients to ensure we choose the best method.
These are just some of the things we will be working on in the next few months, as we continue we will most likely think of more tasks and come across new features that need to be researched/implemented.
Should you be upgrading from SharePoint 2003 to 2007 or 2010, you may need to consider how to handle any customisation you have implemented on your current site.
There are a three options that are available for consideration:
- Keep the customisations.
- Replace the customisations.
- Redo the customisations.
The first option is to keep the customisations in place, which will allow you to keep the same look and feel as the current system, however you would not be able to take advantage of any new capabilities at this stage. If this is the option that would best suit you, there are three options; complete an in-place upgrade, do a gradual upgrade and keep the site in the previous version environment (do not upgrade the site) or you can do a gradual upgrade and upgrade the site , but don’t reset any pages to the site definition.
The second option to replace the customisation is a good option if you are planning on a complete site redesign or significantly changing the information architecture. You can accomplish this is one of two ways; one is to complete an in-place or gradual upgrade and then reset all the pages to the default pages from the site definition. The other way, if you do not need the structure or content is to start a complete fresh.
The final option is to redo the customisation. This method allows you to take advantage of the new capabilities and modify the design slightly if that is required and make it more manageable. You could take advantages of the new master pages to apply your design, rather than customise each individual page. There are three ways to redo the customisations. The first is to complete an in-place or gradual upgrade and do not reset the pages to the site definition version. After the upgrade, modify the appropriate master pages and page layouts of the upgraded site to take on the previous version’s look and feel, and then reattach the page layouts to all customised pages. The next option is to complete an in-place upgrade and do not reset the pages to the site definition. After the upgrade, open the site and copy the customisations, and then reattach the page layouts and reapply your customisations to the master pages and page layouts as appropriate. The final way to complete this method is to complete a gradual upgrade and, in the upgraded site, reattach the page layouts. Then transfer the customisations from your original site to the master pages and page layouts in the upgraded site by using Office SharePoint Designer.
The full article can be found at: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/cc263203(office.12).aspx
Office 365 integration with the Office desktop apps appear to be quite useful and impressive, however, there are still some problems with it. One flaw we found was with the compatibility between web and desktop apps. I found my self rather annoyed that after creating a mock payrole Excel spreadsheet and uploading it to SharePoint Online, it could not be viewed on the 365 website, this was because the desktop appwas not fully compatible with the web app. There are certain features that the desktop app has which the web app cannot use, in the spreadsheet that I created I used validation fields in some cells, this feature was not supported int eh web app there for not accessible on 365. Granted the file can still be opened from the Cloud on the desktop app but the user might not always have Microsoft Excel installed on their machine. Although not fully explored this is true for other Office desktop features. I find this to be a huge flaw in Office 365 and I would hope that this is sorted out for the release version.
Many organisations have upgraded from either SharePoint 2003 or 2007. Case studies of organisations who have upgraded often enter pilot schemes to ensure a smooth transition. These schemes often involve just a few of the features enabled, such as My Sites and My Profile. Other features like Tag Cloud/Tagging usually come later.