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There were tons of sessions at Microsoft's Ignite conference besides mine that were good. I know it’s tough to believe. And I went to a couple myself.

One of the biggest and most well attended was a little session called What's New for IT Professionals in SharePoint Server 2016.

Bill Baer, friend of the show, senior product manager at Microsoft for SharePoint, put that one on in a big auditorium that sat four or five thousand people, something like that. It was gigantic.

So basically it was Bill telling us everything that he could tell us about what’s going to come in SharePoint 2016. Now, I’m going to just kind of go over the highlights of that.

A Bunch of Highlights

One of the greatest things I saw was when he was installing it there is still a single server install — still the kitten-killing install, the basic install from the days of old but they’ve changed it. It no longer does all the horrible things that it used to do.

So it used to install SQL Express and run everything as local accounts and all that kind of stuff. It doesn’t do that anymore.

It installs SharePoint in the single-server mode but you still need to install SQL yourself. You still need to set up your user accounts, things like that. So that was good.

No more kittens will be harmed in the installation of SharePoint. There was much applause and laughter over that.

Another thing that we saw during install was this idea of MinRole, which is this idea that when you’re installing SharePoint you can install it to specific roles. WebServer was one, Search was one, JobServer was one or TaskServer – I can’t remember what it was called – was one.

And SharePoint will only install the bits necessary for that. And so there are some advantages to that.

And then, of course, you still have the whole custom role, which is what we essentially have now and that’s when you turn on whatever you want. But the idea behind that is a smaller footprint — smaller surface area, smaller attack vector, less things to patch because there’s fewer things running on there.

So I’m not quite on the MinRole bandwagon yet but I’m getting closer. The idea behind MinRole would be if you had a farm that was already set up and functioning and you needed another search server you would run the install, pick the search server MinRole, and it would install only the search pieces and then turn all the search pieces on for you when that was done. So that was good.

You Can't Do That

Another thing Bill talked about is that there is no upgrade from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2016. You have to come from SharePoint 2013, which, again, is always how it’s been. You’ve always only been able to upgrade from N minus 1 so that was kind of nice.

Another thing that he talked about was ForeFront Identity Manager (FIM) is out as part of the user profile service. So that’s kind of gone full circle, kind of weird.

So in SharePoint 2007 we had SharePoint sync, which was read only from AD, very limited but very fast, all that kind of stuff.

SharePoint 2010 comes out, its only FIM-based – the user profile service. Had a lot of problems with it, really clumsy, really clunky.

SharePoint 2013 comes out and it’s got both SharePoint sync and the FIM-based sync.

And now SharePoint 2016 comes out and it’s back to where we were with SharePoint 2007. It’s only the SharePoint sync but it looks like it will have support for external FIM if you want to go that route.

When he first showed that slide I was excited and I’m like, “Yeah, about time,” but then it occurred to me that SharePoint 2013’s kind of got the best of both worlds ‘cause you’ve got the choice. You can do either one and that’s really – I like having options but that option’s gone so FIM is out in SharePoint 2016. It’s back to the SharePoint-only sync.

Better Patches

One of the things that Bill hit hard was that the patching story is going to get better, which he talked about a lot when he was on my podcast a while back. He is promising a no-downtime patching. So I’ll be excited to see that when that happens but that’s the idea that there will be no downtime patching.

The patches will be smaller. They will be more laser-focused on the things that need to be patched but we’ll see more about that coming up but, again, you know, Microsoft’s been running SharePoint online for a few years now. They are having all the same problems that we had and they want it to go away as much as we do. The difference is they can actually fix it and I think they are so that’s a good one.

Another thing that Bill mentioned that will be new to SharePoint 2016 is a whole bunch of limits have been expanded – database limit size and number of rows and views and all that kind of stuff – but, also, 10GB file uploads. No longer are we shackled to the 2GB file upload.

Now, I’ve never really thought that SharePoint was a great place for files over 2GB even though there’ve been a couple of times when I’ve wanted to put files that were over 2GB in there but they officially will support 10GB uploads into SharePoint 2016.

File Transfers

Another thing that Bill talked about in kind of depth was how file transfers between the web for an end and the SQL boxes and then all that kind of stuff how that’s going to be changing.

They’re not going to use Cobalt anymore, which is how they used to bring the Office documents in and work your changes in and things like that. And they’re going to more of a bit style thing so they already got the traffic between the user and web server kind of, you know, shortened down but now they’re trying to get that traffic, you know, between SharePoint servers and between the SQL server down.

Another thing that he talked about was this idea of durable links and that means that the link to a file — the link to a document inside of SharePoint will not change or will still work if the file is renamed, which is interesting, and the link will still work if the file isn’t moved to another site collection, another web, whatever.

So he didn’t show that. He didn’t demonstrate that. He didn’t talk a lot about what that looked like on the backend.

I can only imagine that means that files are going to have some kind of globally unique identifier — GUID — of some variety in the background but that was a good thing. So now you don’t have to worry about, you know, losing files in a link. If a file is still there it’s still going to work. So I’m curious to see that.

So Bill’s session was very good. I recommend you go out to Channel 9 and watch it.

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Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by Sunfox.