**UPDATE: Since this article was published, SharePoint 2016 was officially released on May 4th, 2016! This news is as important as the features available in the new SharePoint, so I decided to write a new blog explaining What's New in SharePoint 2016! Enjoy the article, and get ready to upgrade to SharePoint 2016 as soon as it's officially released!**
Today, Microsoft has announced that SharePoint 2016 will only start showing up in Spring 2016. That’s another year of waiting before you can start looking at implementing it for your organization. Seth Patton, Senior Director of Product Management for SharePoint, hints at what’s coming and offers a glimpse as to why the release was pushed back a whole year.
Why did Microsoft postpone the release of SharePoint 2016 for another year
To be honest, I don’t think we will ever know for sure, or at least it wasn’t mentioned in the blog post. It could be that SharePoint 2016 simply wasn’t ready yet, but it could also be due to changes happening on Office 365.
The message has been pretty clear when we analyzed their last announcement in “Back from the dead, SharePoint 2016 helped by Office 365”. SharePoint 2016’s goal is to bridge Office 365 Experiences with On-Premises installations for those who can’t put everything in the cloud. But it’s no mystery that they’d rather have you go all in with the cloud whenever possible.
Could the delay be strategic by allowing Office 365 to grow and mature for another year? Allowing the idea of the cloud to grow amongst the IT crowd and in our changing industry? Eventually, when you’ll be weighing your options and whether you’ll upgrade to SharePoint 2016 or Office 365, it may make more sense for you to go to a mature Office 365 a year from now than deciding today.
For now, the facts are simpler: SharePoint 2016 will be released in Q2 2016 and the reason why is not clear at the moment.
They want you to know that SharePoint On-Premises will continue to exist
"We also want to confirm our commitment to delivering on-premises releases of SharePoint for the foreseeable future." - Seth Patton
In the past year or so, many in the SharePoint community have speculated the demise of SharePoint Server. What happened was the introduction of Office 365.
Office 365 is an entirely new product that leverages multiple existing Microsoft products to deliver ready to go solutions dubbed “Experiences”. Exchange, Skype for Business (formerly Lync), and SharePoint are the three core products that allow this to happen.
One thing they want to be clear, and I say this with confidence because it’s not the first time they've said it since the rumors started: SharePoint On-Premises lives!
What’s new in SharePoint 2016 and what can we expect
There isn't much we’ll know about SharePoint 2016 until it is unveiled at the Ignite conference. However, it’s not hard to make an educated guess with what has been said and what we know of Office 365.
SharePoint, as an enterprise platform for your organization, has already reached a certain level of maturity. It’s hard to imagine what else we can do to better document libraries and sites, though there will always be something to pick at.
We know innovation is happening more and more in the cloud where a company like Microsoft builds and maintains the technology and we simply consume it. This makes things like the Office Graph, to build Delve and Clutter for email, a possibility for everyone to have.
That’s why it’s no surprise to see that one of three focus areas of SharePoint 2016, if not the most important one, will be to make it Hybrid Cloud ready.
But I won’t repeat what’s mentioned in the Microsoft blog post on SharePoint 2016 here, instead here are my takeaways and what I'm expecting:
Improved User Experience
I am expecting to see a big push this year with the whole “people-centric” mentality. People today have come to expect a certain level of experience from the technology they use, even at work. Meaning the user’s experience in finding and working with files or whatever type of content it is, can no longer be ignored.
SharePoint 2016 will most likely be the same as SharePoint 2013, but with an additional layer of people-centric features. Most of them probably in Office 365 and available as a hybrid approach. Instantly, I think of the Office Graph and applications built with it like Delve showing both your SharePoint 2016 and Office 365.
Expect a big emphasis on OneDrive for Business, being the place you go to see all the files you are working with, everywhere. It'll essentially become the people-centric storage experience both On-Premises and on Office 365.
Of course, I’d say it’s safe to say we will see the new About Me page recently announced, as well as the new story creation tool associated with it also referred to as light blogging.
Where we will probably see most innovation in SharePoint 2016, or at least not previously seen on Office 365. Our service applications, and the underlying infrastructure of SharePoint, will most likely be a tad different than what we were used to.
Why? Because they had to use it themselves on thousands of servers and even more customers. Without a doubt, changes were made to make SharePoint faster and easier to manage for the ITPros in charge of Office 365 servers and I am excited to see what they are.
More at Ignite...
We’ll get to see more at Ignite and in Q4 of 2015, you’ll be able to find me downloading the Public Beta and exploring it in detail.
I'm very happy that, whatever the reason for the delay was, SharePoint 2016 isn’t going to be rushed out the gates simply to meet a release date. However, for those on SharePoint 2010 or even 2007, it may still be a long wait before migration even becomes a reality. Bill had teased about migrating from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2016, but we have yet to hear more about this.