SharePoint 2016: what’s new?
Charles Darwin might not be convinced by the analogy, but there are a lot of similarities between the evolution of a product and actual biological evolution. You might think it’s a little far-fetched to compare SharePoint’s various versions with the survival of the fittest, but they do have certain things in common.
As with single celled organisms, software often starts off as a simple product, aiming to fill one or two specific roles. However, those that are successful evolve to become bigger, stronger and able to do far more. Just as with biology, traits which are no longer useful get left behind and new features emerge as the product adapts to a new environment.
Within the next six months, Microsoft will be releasing SharePoint 2016, effectively its seventh update since 2001. SharePoint 2016 has come on leaps and bounds and includes many features which help it adapt to today’s world – be that hybrid capabilities, mobile access or a more user friendly interface.
Microsoft is constantly improving SharePoint to help it fit around the needs and working styles of today’s users. So, how has the product evolved, and how can you prepare for these new changes?
How has SharePoint 2016 evolved?
Microsoft is constantly improving SharePoint to help it fit around the needs and working styles of today’s users. So, how has the product evolved, and how can you prepare for these new changes? Just as with evolution, some features of SharePoint are no longer needed or better alternatives have replace them. As a result, certain features have disappeared.
- There will be no ‘standalone’ installation option meaning you’ll need to have SQL server installed already
- SharePoint Foundation won’t receive a refresh in the 2016 iteration
- SharePoint designer will also be deprecated
These features, and a number of other technical parts of SharePoint will no longer be available. The simple reason here is that they have been replaced or improved upon by other, more powerful features.
So, what are these new features?
- Cloud focused
Bill Baer, Senior Technical Product Manager for SharePoint has described SharePoint 2016 as “built from the cloud down”. What this means is that SharePoint 2016 will now have a strong focus on hybrid technology, cloud data storage and mobile access.
You won’t have to use the cloud with SharePoint 2016, but Microsoft are strongly encouraging the adoption of cloud services. You simply get more power, a greater ability to save and store information and the all-important power of mobile access to SharePoint – if you take advantage of those benefits.
This will include a new hybrid search where you’ll be able to search for and discover documents on and offline, wherever they are.
You’ll also be able to use Delve and other Office 365 features. Delve uses machine learning to discover relationships between people and documents in order to surface relevant information to users. Delve uses the power of Office 365, but will now “take signals” from On-Premises SharePoint.
- A new look
SharePoint 2016 will look and feel a lot like Office 365. The ribbon which you may be used to from SharePoint 2013 has been replaced with the tiles and app launcher which we associate with Office 365 at present.
This is intended to simplify the experience of those users who have adopted a hybrid approach to the productivity platforms, so they don’t get confused by differences between each environment.
- Improved flexibility with file sizes
For most knowledge workers, file size limits in SharePoint have never been a problem. However, if you need to upload big files – large images, CAD files or even video – the 2 gigabyte file size limit could prove a major obstacle. Fortunately, in SharePoint 2016 this has changed; the maximum is now an enormous 10GB, room enough for almost anything.
- Improved performance
There have been a number of improvements in terms of technical performance in SharePoint 2016. In the past, the maximum number of items available via a SharePoint search index partition was 10 million items – that’s now 500 million.
There have also been improvements in the way servers and bandwidth are used and the way traffic is managed across SharePoint. Finally, you’ll also get zero downtime patching – this means you won’t waste whole days installing patches.
For end users this will simply mean a smoother, more seamless experience.
- Touch friendly
Microsoft has made no secret of its aim to support mobile working, and SharePoint 2016 has been specifically designed to be touch friendly. So, whether you’re using a smartphone, a tablet or your desktop, the experience will be perfectly suited to your device.
We won’t get to explore all of SharePoint 2016’s features until we finally get our hands on the release later this year. A full list of improvements and updates can be found on Microsoft’s TechNet website.
In order to prepare for the release of SharePoint 2016, you should definitely consider exploring the platform further, and think about how it will impact on your organisation. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you lay the groundwork for SharePoint 2016.
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