Microsoft will be announcing tomorrow several big updates to its SharePoint team collaboration and content management software, which will be arriving later in 2016. The company is revealing new mobile apps on the way for Android, iOS, and Windows, as well as major integrations with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud file syncing and sharing service and the recently unveiled Flow application integration service. Security updates and a new client-side development framework are coming, too.
Oh, and SharePoint Server 2016 has hit general availability following its release-to-manufacturing (RTM) milestone in March.
All things considered, tomorrow will be “the biggest news day in the history of SharePoint,” the father of SharePoint, Jeff Teper — officially corporate vice president for SharePoint and OneDrive — told VentureBeat in an interview. For context, Microsoft first released SharePoint in 2001 and launched SharePoint Online, a hosted version, in 2008.
With the upcoming changes, SharePoint is essentially becoming more closely aligned with the mobile-first and cloud-first strategy of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. It’s particularly important, as SharePoint — with 190 million users — continues to deal with competitive challenges from the likes of Dropbox, Box, and Google.
Corporate intranet sites that have historically been restricted to approved desktop devices will soon become more easily accessible on mobile. It won’t be the first time that parts of SharePoint will be made accessible on mobile devices, but it will be the first time people can work with SharePoint in proper dedicated native mobile apps. (The iOS app will arrive this quarter, and the Android and Windows 10 Mobile apps will come out by the end of the year, according to a blog post from Teper.)
And OneDrive will become more powerful because it will surface files not only on OneDrive but also on SharePoint Online. A OneDrive universal Windows app (UWA) is on the way later this quarter. Plus, OneDrive is getting smarter.
“In the OneDrive app we have this new view called Discover, where we’ll recommend relevant content to you,” said Teper, who joined Microsoft in 1992 and hired Nadella later that year. The technology builds on the Microsoft Graph that was first demonstrated last year.
Speaking of the Graph, it’s also being used to enhance the presentation of SharePoint team sites for OneDrive and SharePoint’s web and mobile apps.
“Revitalized libraries and lists enable immediate productivity with an intuitive user experience, and provide rich metadata, content management and functionality that can support sophisticated business processes,” Teper wrote in the blog post. “We’re also introducing a new page authoring and publishing experience that allows you to create beautiful, feature-rich pages that are responsive, mobile, and easy to share with your team and the organization.”
Also on the way: the SharePoint Framework. Here’s the explanation in Teper’s blog post:
The Files application programming interface (API) and Sites API will both become part of the Microsoft Graph before 2017, with a preview of Webhooks support arriving in the third quarter of this year, Teper wrote.
Finally, in the area of security, Microsoft will be letting customers use their own encryption keys before the year is out. And before July, there will be support for “dynamic conditional access policies” that will let admins determine who can access content over certain networks, devices, and applications.
And admins will get a more holistic understanding of how end users are interacting with content across both SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server through the new SharePoint Insights feature, which will become available later this year, Teper wrote.