Microsoft Previews SharePoint Server 2016 Feature Pack 1

The first batch of cloud-inspired features includes improved visibility into admin changes, new server roles and new auditing capabilities for hybrid cloud configurations.

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016

Microsoft is sharing details about the first Feature Pack for SharePoint Server 2016, which is set to arrive ahead of schedule.

When Microsoft released SharePoint Server 2016 in May, it pledged to periodically release Feature Packs that narrow the functionality gap between the on-premises software and SharePoint Online, its quickly evolving cloud-based counterpart. During this week's Ignite conference in Atlanta, the company announced not only what new features are contained in the Feature Pack 1, but also that it will be released in November, ahead of the vague early 2017 timetable Microsoft originally set.

For administrators, the update will include a new logging capability that lends more visibility into administrative changes made on the popular enterprise document management and team collaboration platform through Windows PowerShell and the Central Administration website. Newer, more granular administrative logging capabilities will allow troubleshooters to do a better job narrowing down the causes of mishaps due to incorrect or ill-advised configuration tweaks, speeding up their efforts, claims Microsoft.

Also new is a change to MinRole, a set of predefined server roles that helps streamline the process of setting up a SharePoint 2016 farm. Typically used on larger farm topologies—a minimum of four servers or eight in a high availability (HA) configuration—MinRole now includes two new roles for smaller implementations, Bill Baer, senior product manager at Microsoft SharePoint, said in a Sept. 26 announcement.

"The Front-end with Distributed Cache role combines the Front-end and Distributed Cache roles together, while the Application with Search role combines the Application and Search roles together," explained Baer. "These new roles let you host a multi-server MinRole farm with just two servers or four servers with HA."

Feature Pack 1 will also include a preview of the new Hybrid Auditing feature, which enables the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center to view and search both SharePoint Server 2016 on-premises and Office 365 audit logs. The update will also include a preview of Unified Taxonomy, making "it possible to create a taxonomy for information architecture across site collections and web applications," stated Baer.

For developers, Microsoft announced support for OneDrive API 2.0. The new API provides access to files stored on the Office 365 cloud and on-premises, enabling coders to target content located in SharePoint document libraries and OneDrive for Business, the company's enterprise cloud file storage, sync and share offering.

Users, meanwhile, will notice some notable changes to SharePoint interface. The App Launcher now supports custom tiles, allowing users to tailor their workflows by adding tiles that point to legacy apps, external sites and other SharePoint sites.

In addition, Microsoft ported the latest OneDrive for Business interface to SharePoint Server 2016, harmonizing the user experience for Software Assurance customers. Although Feature Pack will be available at no cost, the new OneDrive for Business experience is available to customers enrolled into the company's Software Assurance volume licensing program.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...