SharePoint Conference: Keynote Applause Lines

October 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Posted in collaboration, Microsoft SharePoint | 1 Comment

I have mixed feelings about applause lines at vendor conferences.  These occur when a new feature is announced or demoed and the audience breaks into applause, causing the executive on stage to beam triumphantly.

On the positive side, the applause means “I’m happy, good job”. It shows the vendor has been listening to its customers and responded. That beaming is deserved.

On the cynical side, the applause also means “It’s about time.” The applause lines at this type of conference represent areas of frustration that have been removed.

Wouldn’t it be great if there aren’t such major areas of frustration that their removal causes relief? Is that too idealistic? I don’t think so. In each case, scores of users could have told the vendor the barriers or limitations that were removed should have been addressed in the last release. For example, in Arpan Shah’s session he talked about how the new business data catalog (now business connectivity services) now allows writing data back as well as just reading it (as in BDC). He worded this as “we heard you when you said you like reading, but writing is better”. C’mon, you couldn’t guess people would want to update business data once they see it displayed? It shouldn’t have taken too many user interviews and improvement requests to figure out people would want that.

One of the contributing factors to applause lines is the way that SharePoint releases are tied to Office releases: on a glacial 4 year cycle. In fact, this was a great question that an audience member raised for Steve Ballmer during the Q&A. Steve’s answer, for the record, is that just because deployment is faster doesn’t mean software can be written faster and they’ll continue to release apps on top of the platform quickly. Hmmm … can’t respond in less than four years? As I’ve said before, Office is an anchor and Microsoft should consider breaking SharePoint away from it since this forces releases to be too slow to respond to the market.

Here are the applause lines from the keynote morning:

  • Standards support: REST, Atom, JSON. Clearly the fact that SharePoint releases are tied to the Office schedule caused Microsoft to respond more slowly to the rise of these standards than it would have as an independent product.
  • Visual web parts: Seems pretty obvious to anyone used to Visual Basic that one should be able to click and drag to create basic controls on a page without coding.
  • Limits have been raised to allow 1 million+ items in a list/folder, 10 million in a library, and 100s of millions by syncing libraries.

By the way, one item that was described and demoed, but didn’t get applause during the provided pause was taxonomy and folksonomy. That’s too bad, because it should have gotten applause. Unfortunately, I think the reason is that organizations aren’t doing enough of this today, so it’s not relieving any frustration.

Surprisingly, the social software improvements didn’t get applause either, even though it was an area of great frustration to those who really know blogs and wikis. But I guess there aren’t enough of them to fill a keynote hall with applause. Kudos to Microsoft for improving them before they become a tremendous applause line in SP2013.

Once we’ve had a chance to play with SP2010 and see what’s in it, let’s see if we can figure out what the applause lines will be 4 years from now.

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1 Comment »

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  1. Thank you for sharing this information. I will be attending SSharepoint Conference this coming Sept. 23, 2010 in Denver, Colorado where you’ll be able to attend workshops and technical classes – taught by Microsoft Certified Trainers, Microsoft engineers and Microsoft MVPs.


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