Guess who arrived early for Thanksgiving?

Microsoft announced Nov. 10 that it would release SharePoint 2016 Beta 2 by the end of the month, but as of yesterday it is available for download via the Microsoft Download Center.

What’s more, Bill Baer, senior technical product manager for the SharePoint team, also announced on the SharePoint IT Pro group, that the general release of SharePoint 2016 will be in the first quarter of next year, NOT the second quarter as previously announced.

Four Areas of Improvement

That makes two different releases now running ahead of schedule. Is this a sign of the new, efficient Microsoft that Satya Nadella promised when he took over at Redmond?

The release continues to refine some of the features introduced in Beta 1, a.k.a. SharePoint IT Preview, which was released in August

The improvements, which Baer said were made after consultation with Microsoft SharePoint customers, fall under four different headings: 

Learning Opportunities

  1. Profile synchronization: SharePoint Server 2016 Beta 2 offers support for Microsoft Identity Manager 2016 to enable rich, bi-directional synchronization across identities across the datacenter and cloud
  2. Data Loss Prevention: Enhanced support for new Data Loss Prevention capabilities
  3. Extensible Hybrid App Launcher: App Launcher delivers a common access experience across applications and solutions in Office 365 and SharePoint Server 2016
  4. Profile Redirection: Enables profile management on-premises or in the cloud. Profiles can be extended for select users to Delve About Me and additional Office 365 experiences

Baer said we should expect other additions in the general release:

"Given where we are in the product cycle, these updates are primarily final touches on existing features, responses to IT Preview customer feedback and improvements to performance and hybrid scenarios. As we continue to drive toward the release of SharePoint Server 2016, we’ll continue to add new capabilities and features,” Baer wrote.

Know Before You Go

While Beta 2 is ready for download, be aware of a few things before jumping in. Beta 2, Baer said, should not be used in a production environment.

He also pointed out that users cannot upgrade from the preview release in August, nor will they be able to upgrade from Beta 2 to the release to manufacturing (RTM) next year.

Title image by Gregory 'Slobrdr' Smith via a CC BY 2.0