SharePoint Services Goes It Alone

Windows SharePoint Services decoupled from Windows Server.

Developers are shrugging off Microsoft's recent decision to revert to a separate download deliverable of Windows SharePoint Services (WSS).

Julius Sinkovicius, senior product manager for Windows Server, announced the change in a blog posting in late October. The rationale was to let customers more easily obtain the collaboration and orchestration foundation they need and to free up the WSS development process, he wrote.

Several developers agree this was a "back to the future moment." The analogous workflow and orchestration foundation technologies were delivered as a separate download for the OS up until Windows Server 2003 R2.

Developers are OK with the latest change with one caveat: Separate is fine as long as the bits themselves remain as easy to obtain. Should Microsoft decide to charge for WSS, which has heretofore been part of the cost of doing business, all bets are off.

"This is ho-hum unless it's the first step to pricing [WSS] separately," says Richard Warren, CTO of Channel Blade Technologies, a Virginia Beach, Va., developer of lead-management solutions.

Mike Drips, an independent Sacramento, Calif.-based developer and SharePoint consultant, concurs. "If it's free, it's not a big deal at all," he notes, adding that he's unsure why Microsoft went this route.

Simple and Secure
Michael Cizmar, president of MC+A, a Chicago-based developer focusing on collaboration and search, sees upside in terms of ease of installation and base-level security.

"Security 101 teaches that you don't install what you don't need. It's more secure to deploy only what's important in order to minimize the attack surface," Cizmar says.

"It's not a big deal to separate out WSS -- you either use it or you don't use it. Removing it from the base [operating system] is actually a good idea unless you think you'll get in situations where you might not be able to download."

Modular Functionality
Indeed, developers say breaking WSS out of the overall core operating system continues Microsoft's modularization trend, which is aimed at letting customers choose a version that most closely matches their needs and eliminates "shelfware" features that may sit on the server but are never used.

"This is exactly the right thing to do," says Robert Shear, president of Greystone Solutions Inc., a Boston-based Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in application development, commerce solutions and collaboration.

"There are, what, 50 million lines of code in Vista, and most people use maybe 5 percent of that. Many say Microsoft should chop all this functionality up at the get-go."

Shear predicts that it's highly unlikely that Microsoft will start charging for WSS.

About the Author

Barbara Darrow is Industry Editor for Redmond Developer News, Redmond magazine and Redmond Channel Partner. She has covered technology and business issues for 20 years.

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