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Sharepoint beta gets Olympic tryout

The United States Olympic Committee used the beta of Sharepoint 2010 to power its press Web site during the Vancouver Games.

Microsoft used Silverlight and the beta version of Sharepoint 2010 to give the U.S. Olympic Committee's press site a makeover. CNET

Although still in beta, the latest version of Sharepoint has already made it to the Olympics.

The United States Olympic Committee relied on the test version of Sharepoint 2010 to power the Web site used to deliver statistics, photos, news, and other information to the many journalists covering the Winter Games in Vancouver.

And the results, Microsoft says, were positive. A survey showed that 92 percent of the reporters said they found the site helpful--nearly half said very helpful--and almost three-quarters used the flash quotes (quotes gathered from athletes right after their performance or training) and press conference transcripts to help with coverage.

Sharepoint 2010, which has been in beta since last year, is due to be released in June, along with Office 2010.

There was also a big difference in the look of the site, as Microsoft gave the USOC PressBox a Silverlight makeover as part of the revamp.

A look at the photo archives page on the USOC's press site before it got its makeover using Sharepoint 2010 and Silverlight. Microsoft

The USOC site wasn't the only Olympic action for the Office 2010 beta. Microsoft also paid for two bloggers to cover the Games using various Office 2010 products as part of an Office Winter Games promotion.

For the early part of the Games, Microsoft sent Amber Johnson, a journalist-turned-mommy-blogger, to write about her experiences. Johnson said one of her highlights was hanging out with former Olympic speed skater Bonnie Blair while watching current skating star Apollo Anton Ohno.

The hardest part for Johnson, she said, was finding Wi-Fi to upload her posts. "You would think that would be a given and it's not," Johnson said. "My entire reason for being here is blogging and tweeting."

Reporting on the second part of the Games for Microsoft was college student Dylan Derryberry.

Derryberry said that, as an aspiring journalist, covering the Olympics was a chance of a lifetime.

"Getting to use the latest technology from behind the scenes and (attempt) to hold my own against some of the greatest professional media members is a dream come true," he said.

And while it was fun to use Office 2010 and a Windows Mobile cell phone to report on the Games, Derryberry expects the technology to have changed again by the time he graduates.

"Journalism, like everything else in the modern world, is evolving fast and the technology being used and developed to enhance the profession is constantly changing," he said. "The things Microsoft has awarded me to report with are awesome and make the job a lot easier, but give it six months and something new will be out to better equip with. Just like the news, technology is changing fast and if you want to get by, you have to keep up."