Back in March or April, Microsoft held a strategy summit for information officers here in Pittsburgh. One of the sessions I attended had to do with the nerxt versions of SharePoint Portal Server (SPS v3) and Office System (“Wave 12”). Here are some of the notes I took at that presentation. This was all publicly presented, no secret side conversations involved. The main foci of Wave 12 are knowledge worker collaboration and data centralization/management. As always, features and dates are subject to change.
Microsoft’s research indicates a person receives between 50% and 75% of their job-related information from other people, and about 80% of a corporation’s knowledge is stored in “personal storage” (file servers, My Documents, PST files, etc). This shows a large need to a collaboration platform, and that’s how Microsoft views the next wave (Wave 12) of the Office System. “Office System” is a collection of servers (such as SharePoint Portal Server), clients (Word, Excel), and services (such as SQL Server Reporting Services). An enhanced Live Communication Server will be the presence and instant messaging provider to enable real time collaboration on demand. Enhanced digital rights media (already included in Windows Server 2003) can be used to limit the use of e-mail and documents.
As has already been announced, Office clients will consume a custom XML schema and make use of custom web services. For instance, utilizing Smart Tags in a Word document will allow for a mail-merge via a web service accessing an enterprise database. The workflow platform can be managed by non-developers, giving more control of operations to each business unit. The data satys centeral, but can be used by each knowledge worker as they need to.
Document approvals and versions will be managed via SPS, and include metadata to set retention and expiration/deletion policies. Document approval will use Outlook, which will route approvals via Exchange in order that e-mail addresses are specified.
Office Web Parts will be enahnced. Excel can be used to create a dashboard, then publish it as a web part to SPS. When the dashboard is loaded, the data are refreshed, providing a timely view of information. End users will have more control to create office web parts to suit their business needs.
Outlook 12 will have improved task and time management tools. Tasks can be associated with the a day and time, and can appear as appointments to improve time management. OneNote, SharePoint and Outlook will be able to share tasks.
As with Office 2003, there will be an Access Conversion Toolkit for migrating Access projects to from earlier versions.
A tecnhical beta of Wave 12 is planned for Q4 CY 2005 (Oct-Nov-Dec of 2005), and a public release one year later.