There's anticipation about the keynote at every SharePoint Conference. Will there be news related to releases? Will there be a change in direction in how things are done today? The expectation for today’s keynote was no different. There was the usual questions about what would be covered, but I wish I had a $1 for every time I heard “What does Bill Clinton have to do with SharePoint?”

Clinton started the keynote with a message focused on the impact and transformational possibilities of technology, including how it is expanding the voices of people worldwide.

Jared Spataro, general manager of product marketing for Microsoft Office, followed Clinton. He focused on the vision and goals shaping the future of Microsoft.

  1. We believe the future of work is all about working as a Network.
  2. We believe in personal insights that can be heard when you cut through the noise.
  3. We believe in the power of an open development platform and a robust ecosystem.
  4. We believe that the future of work is only possible when people can work anywhere on any device where organizations can still manage them securely.

These goals frame the future releases of products and services within Office365 and were the basis of all of the new technologies put on display during today’s keynote session.

New Technologies

First up was social and the social experience that users have when working with solutions. Most of the focus today was on the ability to work using one common set of things across all elements. To demonstrate this, Spataro showed enhanced group features that allow you to create a group once that can then be used in Yammer, Outlook and SharePoint. The groups are centrally managed and allow you to manage content that can be accessed from multiple places in different formats.

This is a huge improvement to the current separated groups that exist between Yammer and SharePoint. In addition to the groups, there is now a way to work within Office documents and still maintain connection to your discussions related to the content. This will give users access to content and Yammer threads in one place, allowing for better collaboration with coworkers on building content.

Learning Opportunities

A new app was shown to pull it all together. Oslo, named after the development team's location, is a new way to search for relevant content. Oslo is a search application that feels much like Flipboard: You can see content that is relevant to you without having to gather the information. Information is pushed to you based on who you are and what you do within the organization. Oslo maintains privacy to help ensure that you only have access to content that you should. The application is focused on natural language queries and is built with the everyday user in mind. From the design and layout it is clearly meant to be an application that becomes the lifeline of the everyday work experience.

The focused switched next to developers and the message was “we heard you” and “we need you.” Based on this Microsoft is moving forward with tools and features that will make development easier within SharePoint.A new set of APIs and development tools will allow for the quick development of additional tools.One particular thing in the focus was the new visibility of apps that allows for the addition of apps anywhere in Office.This contextual app feature allows users to work seamlessly within applications while they are accessing data from other elements within the environment.An example of this is pulling data from a SharePoint site within Outlook that then pushes a notification to the Windows phone.

Proposed Roadmap

The roadmap is much like it has been for the past year -- leading with Office365 and following up with an on premises release.  Microsoft announced today that the next versions of SharePoint and Exchange will be released in 2015.These server releases will have a subset of the features available in the Office365 offering as not all things will apply to an on premises implementation.The approach remains the same in that Office365 will provide you with the most up to date feature set and will allow you to take full advantage of the complete set of Office products.

While Microsoft is continuing to provide server releases, it stands behind the promise that it can do better in the cloud. This helps solidify that the future approach for Microsoft is to focus first on building powerful tools and features that are first with the cloud. Great things are coming from the folks at Microsoft and I am eager to see the impact that the tools can bring in the next year or so in the hopes that these tools can help transform the way organizations work.