Microsoft has made available its first preview release for the upcoming SharePoint Server 2016, alongside a preview of a cloud hybrid search tool for the new software and the existing SharePoint Server 2013.
Available to download now from Microsoft's Download Centre, the SharePoint Server 2016 preview offers a first look at some of the new capabilities that will help define the scope, scale and reliability of SharePoint Server 2016, Microsoft said.
These include provisioning capabilities, a better user experience on mobile and touchscreen devices, large file support to cope with content such as video, and improved compliance tools to guard against data loss.
Microsoft is building SharePoint Server 2016 using the same core platform as that for SharePoint Online, the hosted version of the collaboration platform, so there will be greater similarities between the two.
The company had promised to deliver a public beta of SharePoint Server 2016 by the fourth quarter of this year, and confirmed that the full release is set to ship in the second quarter of 2016.
"As we move forward with future preview releases, we'll continue to add new capabilities that represent our investments in audience and workload capabilities. What we're sharing today is just a fraction of what will be in SharePoint 2016," said Bill Baer, senior technical product manager for the SharePoint team, announcing the preview on Microsoft's SharePoint blog.
SharePoint Server 2016 will make it more natural to share sites and files, according to Microsoft. Users just need to click the Share button at the top right corner of every page, and enter the names of people they wish to share with.
The new release also addresses the need for workers to access information while on the go, delivering a consistent experience across screens whether from a browser on the desktop, a mobile device, tablet or slate, the firm said.
On the compliance side, SharePoint is getting new policy controls to hold documents for a fixed time, and to delete documents after a fixed period through the In-Place Hold Policy and Document Deletion Centre.
SharePoint Server 2016 has also been designed to streamline administrative tasks so that IT professionals do not need to spend as much time on provisioning and maintaining the platform.
Meanwhile, the new cloud hybrid search preview allows customers using SharePoint Server 2013 and Office 365 to retrieve unified search results through a combined search index in Office 365. This feature is also native to the SharePoint Server 2016 preview, Microsoft said.
Cloud hybrid search means that all content, including that held on-premise, is indexed in the search index in Office 365. Querying the search index in Office 365 provides unified search results from on-premise and Office 365 cloud services with combined search relevancy ranking.
"The new cloud hybrid search solution is the first step in our new hybrid vision that allows customers to take advantage of new innovation in Office 365," said Baer.
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