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Microsoft Separates Sharepoint Services from Windows Server; Developers Shrug

Developers shrugged off Microsoft's decision this week to revert to a separate download deliverable of Windows Sharepoint Services.

Julius Sinkovicius, senior product manager for Windows Server announced the change in a blog posting on Tuesday.

The stated rationale was to let customers more easily obtain the collaboration and orchestration foundation they need and to free up the WSS development process, he wrote.

Several developers agreed this was a "back to the future moment." The analogous workflow and orchestration foundation technologies were delivered as a separate download for the operating system up until Windows Server 2003 R2.

Developers were OK with the latest change with one caveat: Separate is fine as long as the bits themselves remain as easy to obtain. Should Microsoft decide to charge for WSS, which has been heretofore part of the cost of doing business, all bets are off.

"This is ho-hum unless it's the first step to pricing [WSS] separately," said Richard Warren CTO of Channel Blade Technologies, a Virginia Beach, Virgina developer of lead management solutions.

Mike Drips, an independent Sacramento, Calif.-based developer and SharePoint consultant concurred. "If it's free, it's not a big deal at all," he noted, adding he was unsure why they went this route.

One benefit of the separate delivery scheme is that, in theory at least, all the latest and greatest WSS base workflow functionality will continue to flow to developers still working with older Windows Server environments.

Michael Cizmar, president of MC+A, a Chicago-based developer focusing on collaboration and search, is similarly blasé and he sees an upside in terms of ease of installation and base-level security.

"Security 101 teaches that you don't install what you don't need. It's more secure to deploy only what’s important in order to minimize the attack surface," Cizmar said.

"It's not a big deal to separate out WSS -- you either use it or you don't use it. Removing it from the base [operating system] is actually a good idea unless you think you'll get in situations where you might not be able to download."

Indeed, developers said breaking out WSS from the overall core operating system continues Microsoft's modularization trend aimed at letting customers choose a version that most closely matches their needs and eliminates "shelfware" features that may sit on the server but are never used.

"This is exactly the right thing to do," said Robert Shear, president of Greystone Solutions, a Boston-based Microsoft partner specializing in application development, commerce solutions and collaboration. "There are what -- 50 million lines of code in Vista -- and most people use maybe five percent of that. Many say Microsoft should chop all this functionality up at the get-go." Shear predicts it is highly unlikely that Microsoft would start charging for WSS.

Windows Sharepoint Services, once known as Windows Foundation Services, or Windows Orchestration Engine, comprises basic workflow and orchestration capabilities that are often used by applications. Sharepoint Portal Server, by comparison, is based on WSS but is a full-fledged collaboration solution that lets users store and share documents and files.

About the Author

Barbara Darrow is Industry Editor for Redmond Developer News, Redmond magazine and Redmond Channel Partner. She has covered technology and business issues for 20 years.

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