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SharePoint goes solo, but why?

Microsoft is splitting off its SharePoint Services from Windows. The reason for the move is hard to fathom.

It continues to amaze me at how overlooked Microsoft's crown jewel is: SharePoint.

It's not overlooked by the market, which has bought it up to the tune of $1 billion or so in license fees in its first four years. Yet its competitors have largely downplayed it as a threat--even partnering with it--as it pillages their installed bases.

Now Microsoft is taking its SharePoint story one step further by decoupling it from Windows Server.

I wish I could think of some nefarious reasons for this, but it actually seems to be worse for Microsoft, not better. If Microsoft were cutting SharePoint adrift of Windows, allowing the collaboration portal to work with something other than Internet Explorer, SQL Server, Windows, and IIS, then it would be a truly killer move. (That isn't the case. If you go SharePoint, you have to buy into the complete Microsoft ecosystem.)

It's just a separate download that still only works with Windows. Microsoft gave these reasons:

"Basically, we made this decision to allow customers to most conveniently obtain the technology while allowing Microsoft to have flexibility in the Windows SharePoint Services development process," the company said.

A representative reiterated that it's mostly about the WSS team wanting more "flexibility with the development cycle," in terms of aligning and investing in service packs, new releases and features and "bringing innovation to customers and to other products and applications built on WSS."

It sounds like Microsoft was getting tired of tightly coordinating Windows with SharePoint Services. Fair enough. But if Microsoft were to decouple SharePoint further from its ecosystem, such that it didn't require people to fully embrace the Micro-borg, SharePoint would do even better (though it's other products would likely suffer).

In the meantime, for those of you who don't yet recognize that you compete with SharePoint, here's a clue: you do.

Disclosure: I manage the Americas region for Alfresco. I am fully aware that I compete with SharePoint.