SharePoint Online with 2010
A lot of people are waiting for the arrival of SharePoint 2010 (news, site) so they can officially get to work developing sites and applications. But along with a new version you can install and work with locally, the arrival of SharePoint 2010 also means changes for SharePoint Online.

SharePoint Online Goes 2010

Based on SharePoint 2007 currently, it is an online business productivity suite that offers most of the functionality you have out of the box. In November of last year, it went through a subscription price reduction and added several new capabilities.

Yes, SharePoint Online is also on an upgrade path to SharePoint 2010. And Microsoft announced a version of SharePoint Online for External websites also built on SharePoint 2010.

So exactly what kind of changes are in store for SharePoint Online? According to Arpan Shah's blog, the changes are related to extensibility and multi-tenancy.

Multi-Tenancy Changes

Currently, SharePoint Online is not a true multi-tenant service. A site collection is the essential boundary for a client offering some of the core WSS capabilities and web content management (coming from MOSS). You cannot write any custom web parts or extend the core capabilities.

Shah says that some of the features in SharePoint 2007 don't lend well to multi-tenancy like the BDC, Excel Services and many other Shared Service Providers (SSPs). Which explains why they aren't available today for online customers.

The version of SharePoint Online that will run on SharePoint 2010 will offer a tenant administration site where you can manage sites and configuration, and it will provide web content management, enterprise content management and social computing capabilities, among others.

The improvements for multi-tenancy means that we should expect to see more parity between the online, hosted version and the on-premise version.

Extensibility Changes

With improvements to multi-tenancy also come improvements to how extensible the online version will be for customers.

Shah talks about much improved extensibility with SharePoint Online running on SharePoint 2010 including:

  • SharePoint Browser UX: Modify site themes, master pages and site content easily, and new web parts for creating media and Silverlight apps will be beneficial.
  • SharePoint Designer: We've walked you through some of the improvements to SharePoint Designer already and this functionality will also be available to SharePoint Online users.
  • Web Services: Connect SharePoint data into your external apps via its web services
  • BCS (business connectivity services): Formerly BDC, you can have access to BCS in SharePoint Online
  • Client OM: Create applications that exist on the desktop and connect to the server for SharePoint Online
  • Sandbox Solutions: Using Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint tools you can upload custom code to SharePoint Online and test in a sandbox environment.

All of these extensibility changes will make users of SharePoint Online happy and bring new customers on board.

Microsoft is introducing not only new hosted offerings for Internet Sites and Extranet sites, they are also adding a new SKU to the Intranet offering (Enterprise version).  So it's likely that much of the functionality discussed above will not be applicable to all editions of SharePoint Online.

A limited beta of SharePoint Online on SharePoint 2010 is expected sometime before the end of this quarter and final release is expected by the second half of the year. Until then, watch a podcast Shah did on the expected changes.