SharePoint Then and Now: A Look at the Decade-Long Evolution

SharePoint Then and Now

SharePoint Then and Now: A Look at the Decade-Long Evolution

By Tracy van der Schyff | April 13, 2018

The first post in our SharePoint blog series, "Journey to SP 2019," took readers back to the humble beginnings of Microsoft's flagship collaboration platform and what we’ve learned from it since its inception. In case you missed it, check out the blog here: "The Journey to SP 2019: Lessons Learned from the Start."

In part two of the series, we’ll take a look back at the different SharePoint versions released over the years and how the tool has evolved to meet the needs of a modern workforce.

How It All Started

During the 90s, Microsoft already had several efforts at targeting information access and sharing. Earliest iterations allowed end users to (via FrontPage and Office Server Extensions installed on web servers) create and edit web sites, load Office documents, take part in discussions, and more.

I say “end user” very carefully, as most of the development on SharePoint was only possible for “end users” in later versions. Implementation of solutions was mostly managed and carried out by the IT team.

In 2009, Jeff Teper (aka SharePoint’s Founding Father) shared SharePoint’s history, vision, and lessons learned. This was just before the release of SharePoint 2010—and from this article, it was clear that we were destined for greatness, and that SharePoint would be my tool of choice moving forward.

Versions Released

It’s been 17 years since the first official release, and I’m fortunate to say that I’ve been part of that journey for the past 10 years. In the image below, you’ll see that we’ve come a long way:

SharePoint Roadmap

  • 2001: SharePoint Portal Server 2001 / SharePoint Team Services for Collaboration
  • 2003: Windows SharePoint Services (WSS – SQL + .NET) & Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003
  • 2007: Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) & Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS)
  • 2010: SharePoint Foundation & Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 (MSS)
  • 2013: SharePoint 2013 (On-Premises) & SharePoint Online (incremental, continuous updates)
  • 2016: SharePoint 2016 (On-Premises)

End of Support

On October 10, 2017, Microsoft announced the End of Support for SharePoint Server 2007. This means no more technical support, bug & security fixes, and time zone updates. These support lifecycles typically last ten years, and they give an indication of the version you’re on.

A Look at the Last 3 SharePoint Versions From an End User Perspective

SharePoint 2010

For me, SharePoint 2010 was a game changer. This was where the evolution started changing SharePoint into the product we know and love today.

Enhanced capabilities allowed for better integration with Office, early social features were introduced, central admin had a facelift, and the Office Ribbon was brought into SharePoint. We could also work across multiple internet browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0 and 8.0, Firefox 3.0, and Safari 3.0.

SharePoint 2013

Sharing capabilities, Newsfeed, Community sites, OneNote integration with Team Sites, and “Change the Look” (theme) were only some of the improvements and new features. The ability to Drag-and-Drop documents into libraries from your file explorer, Sync libraries, and Quick Edit is what set SharePoint 2013 apart. These are the additions that had the biggest impact on end users across the world.

SharePoint 2016

SharePoint mobile apps, faster site creation, compliance center, greater sharing abilities, large file support (10 GB), hybrid features and search, app launcher, accessibility features in document libraries, and image and video previews were some of my favorite improvements in SharePoint 2016. What’s more, using the “&” character in file names was made possible!

Comparing SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016 (On-Premises)

Below, you’ll find the content features comparison list between SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016 (including the Standard and Enterprise features).

Content FeaturesSharePoint Foundation 2013SharePoint Server 2013 Standard CALSharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise CALSharePoint Server 2016 Standard CALSharePoint Server 2016 Enterprise CAL
Accessibility Standards Support 
Asset Library Enhancements/Video Support 
Auditing & Reporting (e.g. doc edits, policy edits, deletes) 
Content Organizer 
Design Manager 
Document Sets 
Document Translation in Word Online 
eDiscovery Search 
eDiscovery Hold 
eDiscovery Export 
Email enabled lists and libraries 
External Sharing: External Access 
External Sharing: Guest Link 
Folder Sync 
IRM using Azure Rights Management 
IRM using Windows Server AD RMS 
Managed Metadata Service
Metadata-driven Navigation 
Multi-stage Disposition 
Office Online (edit) 
Office Online (view) 
Office Web Apps Server integration 
PowerPoint Automation Services 
Preservation hold library 
Quick Edit 
Records management 
Recycle Bin (SharePoint admin center) 
Recycle Bin (site collection) 
Related Items 
Rich Media Management 
Shared Content Types 
SharePoint Translation Services 
Site mailbox 
Unique Document IDs 
Video Search 
WCM: Analytics 
WCM: Catalog 
WCM: Search web parts 
WCM: Cross-Site Publishing 
WCM: Designer Tools 
WCM: Faceted Navigation 
WCM: Image Renditions 
WCM: Managed Navigation 
WCM: Mobile and Device Rendering 
WCM: Multiple Domains
WCM: Recommendations 
WCM: Search Engine Optimizations (SEO) 
Word Automation Services 

SharePoint Online

The greatest difference between SharePoint Online and SharePoint in-premises is that the Online version is a cloud-based subscription model.

You'’'ll need less resources (i.e. people, hardware, etc.) to run your environment, as Microsoft takes care of this as part of your subscription. Your information will be hosted in one of the many datacenters across the world (based on your choice and availability). Updates are done and deployed automatically by Microsoft, including regular feature updates and improvements.

SharePoint Online includes:

Automate workAutomate business processes with alerts and workflows.
Communication sitesBroadly share and communicate your group’s message across the organization with beautiful, dynamic communication sites.
Content managementOrganize and manage content in libraries and lists with metadata, records management, and retention policies.
DiscoveryDiscover relevant people and important content when you need it most.
DLP capabilitiesUse advanced data-loss prevention (DLP) capabilities to identify, monitor, and protect sensitive information.
eDiscoveryFind content in electronic format for litigation or audit scenarios.
External sharingSecurely share files and content with people inside and outside your organization.
File sharing and storageFile sharing and at least 1 TB of OneDrive storage per user.
IntranetsInform and engage your organization with intranets and sites to tell your story, announce your news, share resources, streamline processes, and engage people.
Mobile appsAccess intranets, team sites and content with the SharePoint mobile app for Android™, iOS®, and Windows and OneDrive mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows.
SearchCustomize your enterprise search and results with enhanced features to surface resources across Office 365.
Team sitesProvide a place for your team to organize and collaborate on content, data, and news to stay on the same page.

SharePoint Online Subscriptions

SharePoint is available as standalone Plan 1 and Plan 2. It’s also included in the Office 365 subscriptions, which gives you the best of both worlds —SharePoint and all the Apps and Services to transform your business.

SharePoint 2019

Due to performance, compliance, or legal constraints, you might not be ready to move to the cloud.

SharePoint 2019 on-premises is due to be released mid-2018. Keep an eye out for our next blog post on what to expect from this new version of SharePoint!



Leave a Comment

Add new comment


Tracy van der Schyff

Tracy is a Microsoft MVP and an energetic, hyperactive adrenaline junkie who sees challenges and issues as opportunities and thrives on improving processes, environments and the general quality of life. Her broad knowledge about IT and Business gives her the ability to communicate on both levels and convey meaningful requirements and narrow the (ever present) gap between the two.

Written By: Tracy van der Schyff