SharePoint Server 2016 won't be available until well into next year, but customers will be able to test the software later this year.
Seth Patton, senior director of product management for Microsoft SharePoint, confirmed "that SharePoint Server 2016 will become generally available in Q2 2016, with a public beta planned for Q4 2015," in an April 16 announcement. Regardless of Microsoft's cloud-first leanings of late, the company hasn't abandoned those organizations that prefer locally installed instances of the collaboration platform, he added.
"We also want to confirm our commitment to delivering on-premises releases of SharePoint for the foreseeable future," stated Patton. "We envision a future where we will continue to have customers who choose a combination of on-premises, cloud and hybrid deployments for many years to come."
Microsoft is focused on three major areas in advance of SharePoint Server 2016's launch, said Patton. The Redmond, Wash., IT titan mobile-enabled user experiences, "cloud-inspired" performance and scalability enhancements, and expanded compliance and reporting capabilities.
On the user experience front, Microsoft is betting that the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement has become the norm at customers' workplaces.
"SharePoint Server 2016 will provide improved mobile access to content, people and applications along with touch-based experiences across devices and screen sizes," said Patton. "It will make file storage and document collaboration more people-centric."
The new software will integrate with the Office Delve app, which the company recently updated with a batch of new personalization features and native releases for Apple's iPhone and Android smartphones. "And, we're focused on helping you streamline communications with richer integration with Exchange and Yammer, as well as broadening access and management of new types of media thru integration with Office 365 Video as examples," he continued.
Microsoft is also drawing from its own experiences with building its globe-spanning cloud services to deliver a more robust, better-performing product in customer data centers.
"SharePoint 2016 is the first on-premises server release representative of our experience running SharePoint at scale in Office 365," Patton claimed. The software will bring his company's "own internal investments to your datacenter that improve performance, reliability and scale as well as enabling true hybrid scenarios that can enrich your existing on-premises investments." Along with ease of management and a standardized set of developer-friendly application program interfaces (APIs), Patton teased improved integration with Windows Server, Exchange Server 2016, SharePoint Server 2016 and "the next generation of SQL Server."
Finally, SharePoint 2016 will keep a tight lid on sensitive information.
"SharePoint Server 2016 will provide a broad array of features and capabilities designed to make certain that sensitive information remains protected with investments in DLP [data loss prevention]," Patton said. The software will also support data encryption and provide "compliance tools that span on-premises servers and Office 365 while providing a balance between enabling user self-service and ensuring content usage adheres to corporate policy."
For customers that want an even earlier look at the software, Microsoft will be showing off its progress at next month's Ignite conference (May 4-8) in Chicago.