SharePoint Conference

Last week, as some of you already know, was our Microsoft SharePoint Conference held in Bellevue, Washington. Over the course of the week, we presented the breadth and depth of functionality we are providing in our 2007 release in both Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) and our new Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS). Overall, I thought the conference was great and attendance was high!

One of the pieces of feedback we’ve already gotten on this blog regarding the conference was to please post our slides so that folks that couldn’t attend could at least see the material we presented. Thanks for the request! In the next couple of days we will make these available and will post a link to them. Slides and videos from the other sessions will be made available on DVD in about 4 – 6 weeks.

Regarding the conference, Ethan gave a great presentation on records management on Monday, then turned around and headed off to AIIM in Philadelphia. I remained behind and together with one of my colleagues, Rob Silver (who works in our User Assistance group within Office and is one of my primary reviewers for this blog J), we ran a number of new, “experimental” Design Time sessions. Each 30 – 45 minute session provided customers with time to talk to us about records management and their future plans. For customers, this was an opportunity to have one-on-one Q&A and free consulting from yours truly. For me, it was a great experience to do what I love the most: talk to customers and hear what they are trying to do in the real world .

Overall, the experience was just awesome and I think the concept of Design Time sessions is something we will continue to do in the future. I personally got to meet with about eight different companies and saw a nice cross section of different industry areas. I think the coolest and most surprising use of SharePoint came from a school district in Northern California that has deployed SharePoint Portal Server 2003 for staff and students. In their current deployment, each student receives their own “My Site” for storing homework and collaborating with their peers. I was extremely flattered to see a school district embracing what is basically an “enterprise-class” tool for assisting in education. I think it does two things: First, it helps teach students the products that they are likely to use when they are out of school, and second, it helps eliminate the excuse of “the dog ate my homework” J I guess now, you’d have to argue that “my dog ate SharePoint!” J

In all seriousness, though, it was also interesting to see the kinds of challenges that a product like SharePoint faces when used in a non-enterprise setting. My favorite “problem” was the “bad language” / “graffiti” issue. Because we design SharePoint for “adults,” we don’t normally prioritize features like “help me eliminate swear words” or “generate me a report of the worst offenders with respect to language usage.” It was also interesting to see how many of our 2007 features will help them have an even cooler, cheaper to operate system: for example, our new Send To feature could be used by students to easily “send in their homework.” Also, our new Recycle Bin feature will help cut down the costs of lost documents because students accidentally deleted their files. Very fun stuff!

Did you attend the SharePoint Conference? What did you think?

Jason Cahill, Lead Program Manager