Open source has always been difficult at Microsoft, they’ve struggled with how to use its obvious value as a development and delivery model, but the SharePoint podcasting kit seems to be a great example of how to do it right.
Although SharePoint itself is unlikely to ever be Open Source there’s great value in stimulating an Open Source culture around developing on top of the platform. Podcasting is a good example because although SharePoint provides some good plumbing in the form of support for taking a document library of media files and surfacing this as an RSS feeds with enclosures, it didn’t have a polished solution. The same can be said for most of the SharePoint “applications”, great platform – ok solution. If you’re interested in Podcasting, this is definitely worth checking out, but there’s much more for SharePoint going on at Codeplex.
What Can You Do With Podcasting Kit for SharePoint (PKS)?:
- Listen and watch audio/video podcasts, anywhere on your PC or mobile device (Zune, SmartPhone, or any podcasting device)
- Share content by producing your own audio/video podcasts and publish them on PKS on your own.
- Connect and engage with podcasters via your integrated instant messaging program
- Find the most relevant content using the five star rating system, tag cloud, search engine and provide your feedback via comments.
- Get automatic podcast updates by subscribing to RSS feeds fully compatible with Zune and other podcasting devices
- Simple RSS feed based on a defined podcast series
- Simple RSS feed based on a person
- Dynamic RSS feed based on search results
- Play podcasts in real-time using Microsoft® Silverlight™ and progressive playback
- Retrieve instant ROI and metrics with the ability to track the number of podcasts downloaded and/or viewed, instant feedback via rating system and comments, and subscribers via the RSS feed
- Access the richness of SharePoint to extend the solution: workflows, community sub-sites, access rights, editorial and more
- Customize your own PKS User Experience
Looks like Microsoft is finally realising that custom workspaces is one of the keys to increasing employee productivity. Rather than assuming that individual offices is the only – and best – way to work they are now moving to a building design that can evolve with the needs of the team.
I like this idea, whilst I have never had the luxury of a budget that stretched to a personal office (except at home) I have always tried to:
- give team members input into their office design
- created environments that could be easily rearranged to suit the needs of the team at a particular point in time. We found we rearranged our offices at least every 3 months
- provided lots of different types of space, from quiet space, to ad-hoc meeting rooms, library areas, collaborative work areas and formal conference rooms
I’ve designed 4 Offices over my 20 years and it’s probably had more impact than anything else I ever did as a manager.
In the Microsoft Office design I particularly like the Atrium and the Coffee bar, but these are expensive and grandiose and you can do a lot even in the most basic of office buildings.
Its clear that Microsoft spent too long on Office 2007 fighting its historical desktop rivals through the introduction of a new user interface, file format, programming model. These platform investments provided some user benefits but most importantly wrong footed competitors who had previously concentrated on cloning (which is a lot easier than developing) Microsoft Office capability.
However their focus on competing with the past resulted in them missing also completely the fact that there was a whole new crop of competitors who were not interested in simply cloning, but wanted to re-invent the whole office experience as a simpler, more collaborative, service based experience.
I have no doubt that Microsoft has the ability to compete in this space technically, but it will require such a disruption of its current revenue stream that it will be a difficult management trick to pull off. That said Microsoft does seem to understand and management disruptions with some skill and whilst commentators (like me) might criticise them for their lack of innovation there’s little evidence in their revenues (right now) that they are mismanaging this disruption.
Time will tell …
Irwin Lazar asks:
Is SharePoint a Web 2.0 platform? Is SharePoint a content management system? Is SharePoint a workflow manager? Is SharePoint a social computing platform? Or is SharePoint a portal to other applications?
and concludes that although SharePoint is to some extent all of these things:
Well…the answer to all of these questions is a conditional “yes.” SharePoint does have the capabilities to function in all these roles. SharePoint supports Web 2.0 capabilities such as blogs and wikis, as well as user customizable data to enable searches based on meta tags. SharePoint’s content management capabilities enable users to manage documents and other files, assigning permissions, controlling modification, and establishing a trail of changes. SharePoint’s workflow capabilities allow users to assign tasks to document or workspaces, enabling SharePoint to become a project management tool. SharePoint supports extensive capabilities for users to customize their information and share it with others, essentially allowing users to create their own private LinkedIn-style information systems. And finally, SharePoint provides either its own portal system, or the ability to integrate with other portals such as SAP.
but it’s really best thought of as a platform with a rich eco system of best of breed solutions that can be used to extend it:
As enterprises create their SharePoint strategy it makes sense to look beyond the core capabilities of SharePoint when those capabilities don’t meet your needs. Microsoft’s ecosystem for bringing best-of-breed services into the SharePoint ecosystem continues to grow, meaning that rather than viewing SharePoint as the be-all-end-all of enterprise collaboration, it is instead wiser to view SharePoint as the platform that can support both internal capabilities as well as leverage external best-of-breed products to fully meet enterprise requirements.
I’ve also thought of SharePoint in this way – but I now express it as follows:
- SharePoint has most of the core functionality that business needs
- Microsoft itself is experimenting with functionality in lots of new areas, blogs, wiki’s, business data catalogue – with capabilities that are useful enough to get used, but not best of breed
- Companies will use these capabilities and pressure Microsoft to improve in key areas, helping Microsoft prioritise resources
- The most popular of these early features will rapidly evolve either through development or acquisition
- For many customers Microsoft will move forward at a pace that meets the evolving needs, whilst leaving partners to meet the needs of their leading edge customers. Doing what they do best – low cost, well integrated solutions for the mass market
I don’t run Linux on a day to day basis, but I was interested to see the sparring between Joe Wilcox and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols both from eWeek both trying to make the case for the superiority of Vista and Linux respectively. My own take, I’m with Joe – I think XP is the competition for Vista and like Joe I think Vista is improving steadily as Microsoft drip feed us updates on a regular basis. I’m lucky though – I don’t have to wait for these updates because on my Desktop (I don’t stress my laptop) I run Vista 64 and it’s already rock solid.
For me Vista is approaching the level of reliability of an appliance, it just always works. I’ve not had an operating system crash, or problem that forced a reboot for nearly 6 months. Applications still crash, but they seem to crash just as often when I run Linux.
Steven has a point though, disruptions start small and at the extremes. Linux is powering along replacing Unix Workstations and we are seeing a lot of activity in handheld, low end (kids) laptops, thin clients and low end PCs. Microsoft need to watch these under and over served Windows user populations.
However I’m confident that Microsoft understand disruptive innovation very well and I think it’s unlikely that they don’t have contingency plans, one example might be the re-architecting of windows to allow several different variants of windows (probably including the mobile ones) all to run off a single (micro) kernal.