Microsoft does 'social computing' with SharePoint

At Enterprise 2.0 conference, Microsoft releases toolkit to enhance Web 2.0 tools in SharePoint.

BOSTON--When it comes to using Web 2.0 technologies in businesses, Microsoft is officially onboard.

Microsoft's general manager of SharePoint tools and platforms, Derek Burney, gave a talk at the Enterprise 2.0 conference here, where he announced a Web 2.0-style add-on called Community Kit for SharePoint.

Also, enterprise RSS vendor NewsGator announced that it has enhanced SharePoint's feed subscribing tools with tagging and an Ajax interface.

The notion of integrating Web 2.0 technologies from the public Internet--blogs, wikis, and social networking features--in businesses has been gaining momentum for the past few years and is sometimes referred to as "enterprise 2.0."

Several smaller software companies, like SocialText and Jive Software, have created products designed to be lightweight, user-friendly alternatives to traditional content management and collaboration tools.

Large software vendors have gotten on the bandwagon as well. IBM within a month is releasing a series of tools, such as Lotus Connections, which provides blogs and bookmarking tools for business users.

Microsoft's Burney on Tuesday said Microsoft already has built-in support for blogs and wikis into the SharePoint portal server. It also has a tool called MySite that allows business workers to create an individual profile page with details on themselves and their work projects.

The Community Kit for SharePoint is meant to enhance what's already in there, according to Microsoft's SharePoint blog. It includes templates for enhancing a blog's look, better wiki tools, and a tag cloud feature

The product was spearheaded and built by a group of about 20 volunteers and released on Microsoft's code-sharing site, CodePlex.

Burney said that Web 2.0 technologies in business shine for exactly this sort of task, where businesses can use the Internet to solicit opinions and feedback from customers to improve product development.

"It's great because the product can grow outside of its release cycle," he said.

The company also hosts several mashup meetings a month where representatives from different product groups at Microsoft get together to compare notes. These meetings have led to hundreds of good ideas, five product prototypes and even a patent application, he said.

Burney laid out Microsoft's overall collaboration platform around SharePoint and Office, which includes enterprise search, business intelligence and enterprise content management.

Clearly, it's a comprehensive product line, available through the Microsoft Office tools that many people are familiar with. But given some of the scenarios that Burney described with companies collaborating with outside customers, partners and other affiliates, an open question is how well SharePoint and Office can work with non-Microsoft environments for collaboration.

 

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