So SharePoint 2016 has been out for a while now, and lots of the clients I have worked with have made or are making strides to get to 2016. SharePoint 2016 was the long awaited update to SharePoint 2013 and promised quite a few features and updates that would make our On-Premises deployments better and easier to use.

So what do you think? Did it deliver as expected?

That’s the question that can take some time to answer and can often be the source of very subjective answers. Some say yes, others say no and others say not even close. So to help us work this out, what did we think or expect was going to be delivered?

If we go back to Ignite content and other sources, we can see that there were three core principles that Microsoft were focused on:

1.The overall user experience

2.Extensibility

3.SharePoint management

Bill Baer from Microsoft said, the next version of SharePoint will be the most robust, most secure and most tested version of SharePoint to date. It will also make it easier for enterprises to use it as a hybrid deployment. The on-premises version will get better mobile support, new collaboration abilities and new social experiences. Bill also said Microsoft will continue to enhance SharePoint's core capabilities. Numerous improvements are on the way, including the addition of what looks like personal file sharing capabilities. We were also assured us that Microsoft is working to enhance the functionality of OneDrive for Business, Microsoft’s online storage for enterprise customers in Office 365 for business and SharePoint Online plans, as well as SharePoint 2013 plans.

So looking at these areas, and reading the comments made by Microsoft did Microsoft deliver as expected?

SharePoint 2016 made some good strides into delivering new features and components. Based on the three areas of focus let’s look at what got delivered and whether they delivered as expected.

The Overall User Experience

SharePoint 2016 did not really receive any new updates or changes as such, however what is new is the consistent look and feel across everything now within SharePoint 2016. Accessing a site then going to the users Profile and My Site, now looks better and works more seamlessly. Also when using a Hybrid configuration and using offloaded My Sites and OneDrive for Business the look and feel is now consistent.

Of course new features were added such as the App Launcher to make it more consistent with Office 365, which becomes even more beneficial when in a Hybrid Configuration.

The user experience has been updated in a few places such as the document library where the new smaller toolbar is now available for quick and common actions that would need to be performed.

Document Library Simple Toolbar

OneDrive for Business Simple Toolbar

Other areas of the User Experience and Design have been changed but not as drastic as expected. In reality of your user base is used to using SharePoint 2013, then they will be good to move to SharePoint 2016.

Durable links were also added and now allow content to be moved around but still maintain the link that was assigned to it, allowing for better sharing capabilities. Sharing is now really easy using the dialog for not only seeing but also setting the sharing permissions.

Menus have been added back into the SharePoint document library components as well as the hover panel has had some work done to it also.

As well as the basic document features, the hover panel now also displays a phone icon next to the links that are present. This link will redirect to a page that shows a “QR” code that will load the document on a mobile device.

Extensibility

When we think of extensibility we often think Development only. For SharePoint 2016 that story has not changed at all, right now it is the same Add-in model that we came to love or hate in SharePoint 2013 and Office 365.

The extensible features for me are really about the ability to extend SharePoint 2016 further into the Cloud than ever before. The Hybrid story is much better and easier to setup. To run through this process and see the scripts visit my previous blog post:

http://sharepointpromag.com/sharepoint/powershell-office-365-and-hybrid

Once the configuration is completed Central Administration has the various wizards needed to configure the usage for Hybrid.

SharePoint Management

SharePoint Management is such a broad topic that covers everything from the basic installation all the way through to day-to-day management. Some of the core investments here have been:

MinRole – Defined Server Roles that are Managed

http://sharepointpromag.com/sharepoint/what-you-need-know-about-sharepoint-2016s-minrole

http://sharepointpromag.com/sharepoint/sharepoint-2016-core-infrastructure-design

  • Database Sizing Increased
  • Max File Size Increased
  • User Profile Service changes

 

Zero Downtime Patching

http://sharepointpromag.com/sharepoint/sharepoint-2016-what-you-need-know-about-zero-downtime-patching

http://sharepointpromag.com/sharepoint/patch-management-sharepoint-premises

These few features and updates will resolve a lot of the core issues that SharePoint and IT Administrators have faced for so long.

So what would your answer be for did it deliver as expected?

That is up to you based on how you use SharePoint, what features you use and what you really expected it to do. Don’t underestimate the power of what will happen to the feature set On-Premises when Microsoft starts creating the feature packs for SharePoint 2016 that they talked about in the beginning. The last round of blog posts and webinars have mentioned things like the SharePoint Framework (SPFx) will make its way back to On-Premises via a Feature Pack, so don’t give up yet :)

As you can see SharePoint 2016 did deliver as expected, albeit with a bigger push to utilize cloud services with a Hybrid Configuration.