The latest SharePoint 2010 Cumulative Update from Microsoft came with a surprise for iPad users: Select mobile business Intelligence reports and scorecards can now be viewed via the Safari Browser running Apple iOS 5.

Not a Rock-Solid Experience 

But don't expect a rock-solid experience with this Microsoft "gift." There is a significant caveat according to Microsoft TechNet: "Not all reports and scorecards will appear correctly on iPad devices. Limited testing was performed to support displaying dashboard content on iPad devices. However, SharePoint Server 2010 is not fully supported for viewing on Apple iPad devices." 

Blogger Kurt Mackie is even more clear on the issue, saying the solution may result in "...lots of tinkering and fraught with pitfalls for IT pros wanting to SharePoint 2010 to bring business intelligence to iPad client devices," according to his blog at ipad.ekji.com. 

Long term we expect many of these issues to get ironed out.  Microsoft has a significant investment in the move toward mobile support, and the group actually delivered a bit early with this update.  

What Does Work

Back in October, Microsoft said it planned support for key components such as PerformancePoint, Excel and SQL Server Reporting Services’ operational report, to be in place in the first half of 2012. The SharePoint BI support for Safari on iOS 5 is part of that roadmap.  

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Slide on Tablet Support from SQL Server Reporting Services. Source: Microsoft

Back in February 2011, Microsoft published its Plan for mobile devices (SharePoint Server 2010) that described the mobile features in Microsoft SharePoint server with an eye toward how to plan for mobile device support. 

In general, this is a "lightweight interface" to navigate and gain access to SharePoint document libraries and beyond. This support is also meant to include lists, wikis, blogs, Web Part Pages and even back-end business data. According to the original Microsoft TechNet product bulletin, the mobile features include:

  • Mobile views, which display a view of SharePoint sites that is optimized for mobile devices
  • The ability to view Microsoft Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents in mobile browsers, which requires that Office Web Apps be installed; for more information, see Office Web Apps (Installed on SharePoint 2010 Products)
  • Mobile search experience for finding people, contact information, SharePoint content, and data
  • Mobile My Sites for staying in touch with colleagues
  • The ability to view reports and scorecards on iPad devices that use iOS 5 Safari browsers; for more information, see Viewing reports and scorecards on Apple iPad devices.
  • Mobile alerts, which enable users to subscribe to Short Message Service (SMS) alerts, which are sent to users' mobile devices when a SharePoint list or item is changed

While support for the dominant tablet (iPad) is a good thing, look for Microsoft to dedicate a more significant effort toward its Windows 8 mobile devices, including new Ultrabooks and tablets in the pipe. That may help drive business enterprises interested in supporting BI mobility back into the Wintel fold. For now, any IT pro looking to extend functionality to the iPad, this may prove a good start.