Discussion by Samuel Zeller

It’s been three weeks since Microsoft released the SharePoint 2016 Preview.

We realize this is a preview – essentially an unfinished application. But we thought it would be interesting to get some initial feedback from some Microsoft MVPs and SharePoint experts.

The Question

What do you love about the SharePoint 2016 Preview — and what do you hate?

The Answers

Christian Buckley, CMO, Beezy

headshot Christian Buckley

Buckley is an Office365 MVP, Top 25 SharePoint Influencer, and Chief Marketing Officer for Beezy, an Office 365 and SharePoint ISV focusing on UX, social, and enterprise collaboration. Prior to Beezy, Christian was a key part of two SharePoint ISV acquisitions, served as Chief Evangelist for Metalogix, and was member of the Microsoft team that launched SharePoint Online (now part of Office365). Tweet to Christian Buckley.

It’s difficult to have an opinion right now. It’s still too early. My team installed the bits right away and tested our solutions to test whether or not our core functionality has been impacted. It hasn’t. From here, we’ll be going through and testing core scenarios and exploring the release.

What is most compelling to me about this release are the improvements around data security and compliance, with the ability to build your own policies to manage sensitive data. Governance continues to be a major topic for customers, and this latest release continues to move this topic forward.

We are still playing with it, but the expansion of DLP (data loss prevention) and ability to create custom policies around it is new. But the real question is parity with Office 365. Not sure yet.

Randy Drisgill, Manager, Rackspace

Randy Drisgill, Development and User Experience Manager for SharePoint at RackspaceDrisgill is the manager of development and user experience for SharePoint at Rackspace. He has more than ten years of experience developing, designing, and implementing Internet-based software for clients ranging from small business to Fortune 500 companies. Randy has been working with SharePoint since the beta of SharePoint 2007 and has worked on many large-scale internal and public facing SharePoint branding projects. Tweet to Randy Drisgill.

In a lot of ways the SharePoint 2016 Preview is focused on improving upon the already successful SharePoint 2013 release.

Improvements such as large file support and durable links are really interesting, but I think the most anticipated feature is hybrid cloud search, which will allow you to use Office 365 search and Delve to return results from the cloud as well as your on-premises SharePoint content.

If I had to pick something I don’t like about the SharePoint 2016 Preview it would be the lack of improvements to web content management and publishing. I still think SharePoint is a very popular solutions for corporate intranet portals and would love to see some enhancements here.

Simon de Baene, CEO, Sharegate

Simon de Baene

Quebec-based de Baene is an entrepreneur "inspired by simplicity at all levels of product development." He's the founder and CEO at Sharegate, a software company that develops a SharePoint/Office 365 migration and management product, a product advisor at Officevibe and President at GSoft. He said he's passionate about product development, innovation and company culture. He also enjoys traveling, skateboarding, playing hockey and "reading a book while enjoying a nice glass of wine." Tweet to Simon de Baene.

The fact Microsoft took what it learned from Office 365 and reused it for SharePoint on-premises will probably make a lot of people happy. More lean, more robust and better performance.

Not that I hate that, but I’m a little disappointed that SharePoint 2016 doesn’t bring much more business value than 2013.

I still don’t see the wow factor that will make everyone move to 2016. First time I’ve used 2016, I couldn’t visually make the difference with 2013. But that being said, it can also be a good thing: not many things will break from one version to another, and trust me I know how painful it can be.

Naomi Moneypenny, CTO, Synxi

NaomiMoneypenny CTO Synxi height=

Naomi Moneypenny is Chief Technology Officer at Synxi, where she leads the development team for the adaptive recommendations machine learning engine for SharePoint and other social business systems such as Yammer and Tibbr. She is also responsible for the knowledge infrastructure internally for the organization. Tweet to Naomi Moneypenny.

This Preview release is predominantly geared towards the IT Professional community. In my mind, the most exciting feature from this perspective is that SharePoint 2016 has new possibilities that are unlocked by the new search experience that enables content from existing 2010 and 2013 farms to be indexed, queried and surfaced in the new experiences, without having to actually migrate the data.

This means that this deployment can have a fundamentally different strategy than those before, the ‘lift and shift’ method that takes so much time and planning and provides degraded user experience in the transition may not be required this time around. Companies who want to have a hybrid footprint will also be able to do this and build a bridge to the cloud on their terms.

Of course, there are many improvements to play around with in this Preview, and it’s fantastic to see it available and the ability for folks to play around with it and give it a chance to run wherever they’d like.

One of the reasons I stress that this Preview is for IT Pros, is that the vast majority of features and functionality improvement released are in the back-end of SharePoint. From a front end perspective, the interface that you will use every day has some updates available in the Preview, but doesn’t show the ultimate experience.

Jeff Fried, CTO and VP of Engineering, BA Insight

Fried focuses on strategic applications of search technology. He came to BA Insight from Microsoft, where he served as technical product manager for all Microsoft enterprise search products. He is a frequent speaker and writer in the industry, holds 15 patents and has authored more than 50 technical papers, and has led the creation of offerings in next generation search engines, networks and contact centers. He is a co-author of Professional SharePoint 2013 Development and Professional Microsoft Search. Tweet to Jeff Fried

Apparently love and hate are closely linked in the human brain, at least according to neuroscientists. The SharePoint 2016 preview fits this – it’s hard to understand how I can simultaneously be so excited and so disappointed.

I love that Microsoft is getting this out so early and making it so easy to try. I love that there's emphasis on the IT experience and the underlying scale, availability and trust.

But I'm frustrated that things I wanted to see, like how the mobile experience is different, don't seem to be there. I found some more touch-oriented controls, but by and large the same templates, master pages. Emphasis on the guts and delaying some of the pretty face niceties is better than the other way around, I guess.

I love the emphasis on hybrid. As a search nerd, the cloud hybrid search capabilities and the ability to light up Delve with on-premises content are my favorites. But that's in preview for SP2013, too. And the experiences you're tapping into are by their nature already visible in Office 365. This reduces the impact from black-and-white (I can do this now, I couldn't before) to grey (this is better integrated, easier to set up). It's incredibly important to do this well, it's just somehow less inspiring.

That being said, there’s a lot of stuff I find cool in the hybrid experience. Search, of course!!! Leveraging the azure video capabilities for on-premises content is very cool. And the integration of OneDrive, though not at all surprising, is something I think users will love. (Just can’t wait until OneDrive sync gets fixed).

I love the deploy experience. The preview just installed and worked. I love the performance and limit increases, at least the things I've played with - for example site provisioning is an order of magnitude quicker, and uploading files is blazing fast. I love the idea of MinRole, the scenario picker, the higher performance. I particularly love the distributed cache changes. SharePoint 2016 uses AppFabric from the OS, rather than doing its own thing. Not much to hate here, except the fact that Microsoft is creating work for me to adjust to a new way of packaging and deployment.

There are lots of things I haven't touched yet, and lots of things I'm still digesting. For example - UPRE (the User Profile sync) seemed to be missing, leaving me without SharePoint changes flowing back to AD. Then I realized you could do this with FIM externally, though I haven't tried that yet. This is the right thing for Microsoft to do, since UPRE was barely functional anyway - it’s just different. Do I love it or hate it? I won't know until I have worked with it in the real world.

Overall, the preview is visibly ahead of the builds I've seen earlier. Still stuff missing, but a lot there already.

Eric Riz, Founder and CEO, Empty Cubicle

Headshot Eric Riz CEO

Riz is the founder and CEO of Toronto, Ontario-based Empty Cubicle, which is focused on facilitating connections between job seekers and employers looking for independent talent. He also sits on the Microsoft Solution Advisory Board, acts as a Judge for the Microsoft Imagine Cup and is a three-time recipient of the SharePoint MVP award. Tweet to Eric Riz.

The IT Preview has been widely embraced by the SharePoint community.

Many of the expected collaborative experiences have been included in the Preview, and users are finding the functionality particularly useful in the areas of mobile and touch, the app launcher and user profile service.

Without question, this release pushes collaboration to new heights and allows users to make critical business decisions faster.

Jeff Willinger, Director, Rightpoint

Headshot Jeff WillingerWillinger is director of collaboration, social business and intranets at Rightpoint, where he specializes in advising clients on social computing strategies, collaborative intranets and portals, mobile reach versus reach and increasing employee engagement. An online influencer, analyst and expert on web collaboration, enterprise social networking and enterprise IT strategy, he is responsible for all new and social business activities leading to presentations, proposals and closed business. These activities include organizing events around Microsoft solutions, such as SharePoint, Yammer, Salesforce, EpiServer, Sitecore and business process to enterprise customers. Tweet to Jeff Willinger.

SharePoint 2016 makes some solid improvements for the user experience, but feels more like an update than a major new release.

I love the improved user experience and the new search service that indexes both on-premises content within SharePoint 2016 and also Office 365 or SharePoint Online content. The indexes will then be combined and users can search a single time and have results that match their search query string populated from both locations without any additional fuss.

Whereas, I will eventually love search, it is currently my disappointment. The ‘hybrid’ unified cloud search is not quite there yet.

Oliver Wirkus, Senior SharePoint consultant, Softlanding

 Oliver Wirkus Softlanding Senior SharePoint Consultant

Oliver Wirkus is a Senior SharePoint Consultant at Softlanding in Vancouver, British Columbia. A SharePoint expert and software architect, he has consulted for a variety of industries and specializes in international projects. He is a published, international speaker, former moderator of SPUG Stuttgart, and has been voted one of the Top 25 European SharePoint Community Influencers in recent years. Tweet to Oliver Wirkus.

I’ve been involved with the SharePoint practice for more than 10 years now and have seen many SharePoint farms. From my experience, only a few of them had been up to date, usually missing at least one cumulative update — some even missing more.

SharePoint admins often try to avoid the complex and risky process of installing a cumulative update to their SharePoint farm. However, with the simplified ease of Zero Downtime Patching, I expected more SharePoint farms to be up to date.

Some of you might know that I have been promoting document management with SharePoint for many years. For a DMS it is important to be able to access a document regardless of its place of storage. With DocumentIDs this can be accomplished, but to be honest, dealing with DocumentIDs is everything but user-friendly.

With SharePoint 2016, I’m expecting a vast improvement in user-experience with Durable Links, an added benefit that enables documents to be accessed by their initial URL even if it has been moved. Just this feature can eliminate some of the confusion that many SharePoint professionals and users face on a day-to-day basis.

To my disappointment, I recognized that the UI hasn't changed in the current beta of SharePoint 2016. A few years ago, the out-of-the-box branding of SharePoint 2013 had been considered modern and state of the art, however a lot has changed and improved since then. A modern and responsive design and mobile access are requested by many companies and I was expecting SharePoint 2016 to meet these requirements in an improved way.

SharePoint 2016 might not come with many new or improved features, but it is a true and important milestone for many companies on their journey from ‘on premises’ to the cloud. I still expect many companies to upgrade to SharePoint 2016.