Originally labeled Digital Dashboard the first Microsoft web portal introduced online elements (portals) that held brief snapshots of information. These portals were designed to launch from one page, from where the end user could drill-down to the required pages they chose from the brief introductory portal section of the front screen. This enabled sites to maintain one URL and one screen and within this one screen launch multiple portals or micro sites. This offered tremendous multi-dimensional browsing of related OR totally separate subject matter alike.
However, as great a concept as it was, it failed to live up to expectations and the design was shelved because of a lack of integration with embedded document management and problems with speed of access to information within portals.
That said, as it so happened, at the same time a project that would prove very beneficial to the online office project was being undertaken called SharePoint Team Services (STS). These services allowed users to access shared files online. Such web based information and media dissemination opened up huge potential for online users and in effect solved one of the key problems with the Digital Dashboard project.
As of 2007, Microsoft had the product, collaborative interfacing and document management tools to launch SharePoint as a viable web portal solution. However what they were lacking, and what SharePoint desperately needed was the ability to allow users to quickly and easily share information and documents over the complex web of digital media, and in so doing maximize Microsoft’s marketability in the highly competitive business of online corporate advertising. Microsoft achieved this end by paying $1.23 billion for FAST (Fast Search & Transfer). The FAST software was then integrated with SharePoint to complete the web portal service offering.
Now a SharePoint Server web portal offers a multitude of online functionality.
- Real time information updates and mass data storage.
- Bespoke browser based configurability of pages.
An online (shared) file, document and media repository.
Event planning, calendars, contacts lists and personal admin.
Message boards, discussion forums and blog facilities.
Extensive administration for access and permissions to portals.
- Broadcast messaging, user privilege lock downs, email notification.
Such feature rich online collaboration is a vital cog in the Microsoft wheel as they move forward in the online information and communication age. Users demand real time information, at their fingertips, in customizable formats and on a plethora of devices. As such Microsoft SharePoint is well positioned to deliver on such expectations.
In the next part in this series we discuss Sharepoint for dummies further, looking at the three Microsoft SharePoint Components which bring the whole service together, namely Windows SharePoint Services (WSS), Microsoft SharePoint Designer (SPD) and Microsoft Search Server (MSS).