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SharePoint Server 2016 Beta 2 Coming This Month

The second beta of SharePoint Server 2016 will be released at the end of this month, according to Microsoft officials.

That bit of news was mentioned by Jeff Teper, corporate vice president for SharePoint and OneDrive, at the European SharePoint Conference keynote talk yesterday. The keynote will be available on demand later at this page, but various SharePoint MVPs have already blogged about what was said during the talk.

The keynote also featured Bill Baer, Microsoft's senior technical product manager for SharePoint, as well as Seth Patton, global senior director of SharePoint and OneDrive. The speakers offered a high-level view about SharePoint Server 2016 and what to expect, along with talk about Microsoft's future commitments, according to reports from attending MVPs.

Microsoft MVP Vlad Catrinescu suggested that the second beta likely will appear before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and will be "99 percent feature complete." He cited Teper as saying that SharePoint Server 2016 won't be the last server version of the product and that "Microsoft will continue to invest in on-premises SharePoint and hybrid scenarios."

That message isn't the first one from Microsoft about SharePoint's future, but, it still may be a welcome declaration for some organizations to hear today. The fate of the SharePoint Server product has seemed kind of murky over the past year. Lately, though, Microsoft's messaging has centered on it being committed to supporting a more hybrid SharePoint.

New Delve Analytics
One new feature that will be coming to SharePoint Server 2016, as mentioned in the keynote, is "Delve Analytics." This feature represents an integration of the organizational analytics software that Microsoft acquired when it bought VoloMetrix in September. Delve Analytics will show employee time spent reading e-mails or attending meetings. It also shows when you are starting to lose touch with company contacts, according to Catrinescu's account. 

Microsoft MVP Naomi Moneypenny argued that this emerging Delve Analytics solution shouldn't be feared as a Big Brother snooping mechanism. It just shows cumulative data to managers. Data about the work activity of individual users only get seen by the individual.

Groups vs. Team Sites
Microsoft is bringing greater clarity to some SharePoint components, according to MVP Benjamin Niaulin, after observing the keynote. He commented that the next SharePoint is "not just a UI makeover" but will be about helping teams work together. "It's clear that OneDrive for Business and Team Collaboration with Groups or Team Sites are going to be a lot closer as well," Niaulin wrote. He added that Microsoft will broaden the access of SharePoint Team Sites to Groups in Office 365, which could help organizations with their SharePoint content management issues.

Catrinescu described the talk as clarifying the "confusion between Office 365 Groups and Team Sites." Microsoft sees Groups as technology that can be used to improve SharePoint Team Sites. Microsoft is calling this future improvement, "modernized Team Sites" for its next SharePoint product.

Microsoft dropped some SharePoint statistics during the talk. SharePoint and OneDrive are used by more than 75,000 customers, with more than 160 million users. SharePoint and OneDrive have a 200 percent monthly growth rate in active users, according to a slide presented by Patton.

SharePoint Server 2016 is still at the beta 1 stage for now. Microsoft has been targeting a general availability release of the product in the second quarter of next year.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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