What's Microsoft have in mind for SharePoint — and what's the future hold as momentum grows behind the SharePoint 2016 release?

Seth Patton, senior director of product management for the SharePoint team, and Bill Baer, a senior technical product manager in the SharePoint product group, answered some of those questions. But many others remain unanswered as the Ignite conference in Chicago continues.

Here to Stay

Microsoft will continue to enhance the core offerings in the on-premises edition. It will also continue to develop SharePoint Online and update it as quickly as the updates are available.

A preview version of SharePoint 2016 will be made available later this summer, with a beta version expected by the end of the year. A release candidate version will be available next spring with the full release expected in the second quarter of 2016, Patton and Baer confirmed.

In an afternoon session entitled Evolution of SharePoint Overview and Roadmap, the duo gave a rough outline of Microsoft's plans, albeit without precise delivery dates.

Microsoft is on a mission to reinvent productivity, Patton said — echoing what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said earlier in the day. SharePoint is still one of Microsoft's leading platforms, and the company isn't going to do anything to jeopardize that.

Patton said 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies still use SharePoint on-premises, with 38 percent of the entire SharePoint client base using the online version through Office 365.

Patton traced the evolution of SharePoint from its early role as an application for document collaboration to SharePoint 2013, which included cloud and hybrid versions.

SharePoint 2013 remains the keystone of SharePoint development, with further enhancement expected even as Microsoft gets ready for SharePoint 2016. Baer told the audience that Microsoft would be adding Delve to SharePoint 2013 by the end of this year.

Learning Opportunities

3 Principles

SharePoint capabilities are all being developed around three principles:

  • The overall user experience
  • Extensibility
  • SharePoint management

The result, Baer said, is that the next version of SharePoint will be the most robust, most secure and most tested version of SharePoint to date. It will also make it easier for enterprises to use it as a hybrid deployment.

But the on-premises version will get better mobile support, new collaboration abilities and new social experiences.

Baer said Microsoft will continue to enhance SharePoint's core capabilities. Numerous improvements are on the way, including the addition of what looks like personal file sharing capabilities. 

Baer also assured the audience Microsoft is working to enhance the functionality of OneDrive for Business, Microsoft’s online storage for enterprise customers in Office 365 for business and SharePoint Online plans, as well as SharePoint 2013 plans.

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