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SharePoint Server 2019 Preview Now Available

Microsoft on Tuesday announced a public preview release of SharePoint Server 2019.

In addition, there's a public preview of Project Server 2019, which is part of SharePoint Server 2019 although it gets licensed separately. The SharePoint Server 2019 preview is modeled on the current SharePoint Server 2016 product, but it adopts some SharePoint Online product features as well.

The preview can be downloaded here. Microsoft plans to release the SharePoint Server 2019 product sometime this fall, according to slide 30 in this Microsoft slide deck from the May SharePoint Conference North America event.

Modern Experiences
For end users, Microsoft has ported a number of its SharePoint Online "modern" experiences over to SharePoint Server 2019. End users using the modern experience get a different user interface compared with the older so-called "classic" experience. The modern interfaces that show up in SharePoint Server 2019 preview include:

  • Communication Sites
  • Team Sites
  • Lists
  • Libraries
  • Web Parts
  • Home Page
  • OneDrive next-generation sync client

Missing from this list are Hub Sites, which are used in SharePoint Online to manage Communication Sites and Team Sites. Hub Sites apparently won't be available in the SharePoint Server 2019 product but this feature is available in the Office 365 SharePoint Online product version.

Microsoft has published a useful comparison between SharePoint Server 2019 preview with its modern user interface additions and the current SharePoint Server 2016 product with its classic user interface in this support document. The document noted that there are differences between the two interfaces, and their features don't map on one-to-one basis. It also seems that SharePoint Server 2019 users will get some classic interfaces.

"Existing team site home pages and other site pages like wiki and web part pages are classic experiences," the support document clarified.

The importance of using the OneDrive next-generation sync client with SharePoint Server 2019 is that there's no longer a dependency on using the older Groove technology. The Groove client is getting deprecated in SharePoint Server 2019. The OneDrive next-generation sync client will work in "hybrid" (cloud plus on-premises) environments, according to a SharePoint "Intrazone" discussion between Mark Kashman and Bill Baer, who are both senior product managers for SharePoint at Microsoft.

Microsoft is also touting the use of the OneDrive next-generation sync client because it supports "advanced features such as Files On-Demand, push notification and IRM [information rights management] protection," according to Microsoft's "What's New" document.

Microsoft described a few other new features in SharePoint Server 2019. One of them is integration with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow, which can add automation for apps. Also, end users will be able to recover content deleted by other users using the Recycle Bin. Microsoft also is bringing the Office 365 App Launcher to SharePoint Server 2019, which gets enabled via "hybrid team sites and/or OneDrive for Business," according to Microsoft's "Reviewer's Guide" (PDF document) description. Microsoft also is touting "fast site creation" by end users in SharePoint Server 2019, which takes "five to ten seconds," according to the Intrazone talk.

Baer also notably answered, "No," when asked by Kashman during the Intrazone talk if SharePoint Server used on premises were dead.

IT Pro Features
IT pros will see some perks with SharePoint Server 2019.

Microsoft expanded some of the technical limitations compared with SharePoint Server 2016. For instance, SharePoint Server 2019 now supports file uploads up to 15GB, which is up from 10GB with SharePoint Server 2016, according to the "What's New" document. It's also possible to use the # and % characters in file and folder names. Microsoft also increased URL path lengths to 400 Unicode code units (up from a prior 260 code units limit).

The server product now can authenticate to Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) servers when sending e-mail messages. It's an infrastructure improvement that's described in the "What's New" document.

"This [SMTP authentication] makes it easier for customers to integrate SharePoint into highly secure environments where authentication is required to send emails," the document explained. "Customers no longer need to configure smart host relays for SharePoint in these environments."

In addition to SMTP authentication support, SharePoint Server 2019 will get a new Health Rule that can be used to check that the "outgoing email credentials are identical between all servers," according to a Microsoft TechNet blog post. That sort of setup is required to store and retrieve the SMTP password that's used when sending e-mails.

The Hybrid Configuration Wizard is more accessible now, and can be launched from the admin portal. Creating hybrid sites "is no longer a lengthy infrastructure task," according to Microsoft's Intrazone talk.

Kashman and Baer also talked a bit about using the SharePoint Migration Tool vs. solutions offered by other software vendors to move SharePoint workloads to Office 365. The SharePoint Migration Tool is just a self-service tool for simple migration scenarios and it doesn't offer the breadth of support offered by third-party tools, they said.

Microsoft Premier Field Engineers talked a bit about some of the automation capabilities available with SharePoint Server 2019. The upshot of the talk was that AutoSPInstaller, a PowerShell tool used to automate SharePoint deployments, "is not going anywhere" with the new SharePoint Server 2019 product. However, SharePointDSC will be a "more declarable" tool to use. SharePointDSC, a PowerShell desired state configuration tool that was formerly known as "xSharePoint," lets organizations define the configuration of SharePoint farms, but it's also used to check the status of a SharePoint farm after installation, they noted. It uses a pull mode to keep the servers in the desired state, according to this Microsoft description.

Microsoft has built Data Loss Prevention (DLP) search capabilities into SharePoint Server 2019, according to the "Reviewer's Guide." IT pros can configure DLP policies for the server using templates. They can also use this DLP capability with Microsoft's eDiscovery Center to track or block the release of sensitive information, such as credit card and bank account numbers.

IT pro can create shared taxonomies between SharePoint Server 2019 and SharePoint Online, which is used to replicate changes and updates. There's also a "profile redirection" capability for redirecting SharePoint Online users in hybrid scenarios toward using their Office 365 profiles, according to the "Reviewer's Guide."

Microsoft offers a "Quick Start Guide" (PDF file) for SharePoint Server 2019, which lists the product's prerequisites. There's a dependency on using SQL Server 2016 or SQL Server 2017, and it'll run on Windows Server 2016 or the coming Windows Server 2019 product. It'll be possible to upgrade to SharePoint Server 2019 from SharePoint Server 2016.

Other resources can be found at this document page.

Deprecated Features
For IT pros, the list of deprecated features in SharePoint Server 2019 might be as interesting as the new ones. Microsoft described them in this announcement.

PowerApps and Microsoft Flow services will be the preferred substitutes for the deprecated Access Services 2010 and Access Services 2013. InfoPath 2013 continues on as a deprecated product for SharePoint Server 2019. SharePoint Designer 2013 is deprecated, too, but it "will work with SharePoint Server 2019 public preview for the remainder of the client support lifecycle (2026)," according to the announcement.

Microsoft wants organizations to use "Team News, Communication Sites, Yammer and/or Teams" instead of the aggregated newsfeed, which will be set to "read-only" in SharePoint Server 2019. Microsoft enacted that same sort of change for SharePoint Online users last month.

Microsoft also wants organizations to use Power BI as an alternative to PerformancePoint Services. PerformancePoint uses deprecated Silverlight technology, which won't be supported on Oct. 12, 2021.

Microsoft also is deprecating the Machine Translation Service in SharePoint Server 2019. Deprecation means that Microsoft isn't developing the feature, but the feature may continue to work. Microsoft also plans to alter its Help feature so that it'll become a cloud-based Office 365 feature.

Microsoft plans to talk more about SharePoint Server 2019 at its Ignite event, coming up in September.

About the Author

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

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