Microsoft officially took Office 2010 out of beta this week, so naturally the Web's reverberating with SharePoint this and SharePoint that. As a matter of course, competitors of all sizes have taken this opportunity to push their own office solutions, Google and Cisco included. 

The New 6 Pillars of SharePoint

SharePoint is back for another round, and this time 6 specific areas are going to work to contribute to the Enterprise 2.0 conversation. Where you pledge allegiance -- be it to Microsoft, Google, or some smaller vendor -- matters very little when the release in question is this big and improvements are this drastic. You're going to catch wind of it sooner or later. 

The areas at work are: 

Sites: With most everything site-based these days, it's no surprise so much focus went here. In SharePoint 2010, sites are accessible through your intranet, extranet or internet. 

Communities: Again, no surprise here. Social is big and Microsoft is trying to cash in by continuing what they started in Office 2007. MySites, Profiles, better collaboration, etc. all work to bring everyone into the conversation. 

Content: Improvements in this area have been made to the creation and management of metadata leg, as well as taxonomy. Retention policies can be set, and there's now support for external data storage. 

Search: Search has improved thanks to the acquisition of FAST

Insights: A number of self-service business intelligence capabilities have been tossed in, including dashboards, scorecards, reports and more

Composites: Now build composite applications without having to get your hands dirty with developer code. 

SharePoint 2010 Secrets

There's so much going on with SharePoint 2010 that as a potential user, you may have overlooked a few really cool features

  • Wiki-like WYSIWYG editor for Site pages
  • Multilingual features change chrome languages on the fly
  • Visio Graphics service displays workflows
  • Interactive thumbnail previews now live in search results
  • Seamless video integration

SharePoint 2010 is for Business Users

“It is a moment of fundamental change and there are a lot of reasons for this,” said Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft’s business division. 

Accordingly, this year Microsoft is big on enhancing business productivity in the information overload age. With a focus on the integration of social media, Elop claims the deployment of the 2010 products will add two weeks of productive work per person per year. 

Doubtful? Read on

Google Says, Wait! Come to OUR Party! 

The Microsoft Office 2010 release presents an opportunity for competitors as well. Google, for example, posted an open letter on their official blog to all parties with any level of interest in switching over to Big G: 

This week Microsoft will take its Office 2010 suite out of beta. If you’re considering upgrading Office with Office, we’d encourage you to consider an alternative: upgrading Office with Google Docs. If you choose this path, upgrade means what it’s supposed to mean: effortless, affordable, and delivering a remarkable increase in employee productivity. This is a refreshing alternative to the expensive and laborious upgrades to which IT professionals have become accustomed.

A lot of oldschool enterprise-y folks scoff at the idea of dropping Microsoft for Google, but G's been tirelessly picking away at business customers for a long while now. Their latest Docs upgrade was a huge move, and we expect the upcoming Google I/O conference to reveal more news of this variety. 

Cisco Says, No! OUR Party! 

Cisco's shtick is security--the thing Microsoft most commonly claims is the biggest issue with ditching Office for Google Docs. Their SharePoint-ish  platform, Cisco Quad, advertises "rules-based policies for fine-grained access control; encrypted communications, and the management of restricted and private communities."

Cisco Quad also offers features we've come to know and love, such as profiles, wikis, and other tools for collaboration and networking. 

Who will you go with, and why?