A few weeks have passed since Microsoft released the technical preview for SharePoint 2016. With talks about pushing Office 365, it was interesting to see that Microsoft will continue to provide a server version as well. In order to get a feel for the new system I installed a SharePoint 2016 instance on a new Server 2016 technical preview along with SQL 2016.
For the first installation, I used the UI to gain an understanding of any new features that Microsoft would be promoting. After installing prerequisites, I then installed SharePoint and configured the system. I found that installation remained consistent from previous versions, though a new screen appeared allowing me to setup a role for my server. This role was not absolute, but would generate warnings if particular services were installed on a specific role. For example, if you chose the Front-End role and activated Search crawler, you will receive a health warning indicating the service does not compliment the role selected for the server. This is a nice feature for those who are new to SharePoint and are questioning what services belong on each server. Microsoft has made an effort to create a line between an application server and a front end server. While I did not use PowerShell, there are new commands to go along with the installation process to account for the new roles.
• Web Server (IIS) Role
• Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Native Client
• Microsoft ODBC Driver 11 for SQL Server
• Microsoft Sync Framework Runtime v1.0 SP1 (x64)
• Windows Server AppFabric
• Microsoft Identity Extensions
• Microsoft Information Protection and Control Client 2.1
• Microsoft WCF Data Services 5.6
• Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5.2
• Cumulative Update Package 1 for Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server (KB2671763)
• Visual C++ Redistributable Package for Visual Studio 2013
• Update for Microsoft .NET Framework to disable RC4 in Transport Layer Security (KB2898850)
With each new SharePoint iteration we expect more features. Since this is a technical preview, we may not be seeing all of the features that are to be added. From a quick glance in central admin we see a new option for Office 365. While this did not work for me, it gives users the options to setup OneDrive and site features for a hybrid environment. This is a logical step as Microsoft keeps pushing for more “As a Service” solutions along with Office 365.
Another new feature is the servicee Microsoft SharePoint Insights. This was a service previously only offered in Office 365. It allows for creating BI around your SharePoint data and more information about this service can be found here.
For me, the most notable surprise was the lack of changes to the UI. While there are boasts about improved mobile and touch features, there are no noticeable differences from SharePoint 2013 to 2016. Each release since 2007 has made noticeable changes to the UI. The ribbon was added in 2010, and 2013 brought us HTML5 and easier editors. I think with the lack of a new design, this will be a tough sell for upgrades unless users are specifically looking for hybrid solutions.
As Microsoft keeps pushing for cloud solutions, I believe we will start seeing less and less from the on premise versions of SharePoint. While on premise will always be necessary for certain security reasons and public facing sites, it seems that Microsoft is trying to get companies to start offloading workloads into the cloud. This will allow companies to start minimizing their in-house infrastructures or even begin moving to Azure. With lack of new UI features 2016 feels more like a service pack than a new piece of software, and I see it hard converting companies using 2013 to 2016.