Microsoft has published a Release Candidate (RC) for SharePoint Server 2016, describing the latest build as mostly feature complete ahead of general availability sometime this spring. The RC will allow customers to better evaluate how the finished product will perform in a production environment.
SharePoint Server 2016 is the latest incarnation of Microsoft's on-premise platform for workgroup collaboration. The RC follows a preview release and a public beta that were made available for test purposes last year.
Microsoft said that SharePoint Server 2016 represents significant value for IT administrators, developers and end users alike, offering better deployment flexibility, enhanced data security, a unified development experience across server and cloud, and improved mobile access to content.
"SharePoint Server 2016 is our most reliable, scalable, secure and high-performance server release ever. With built-in hybrid cloud capabilities, it is the premier choice for organisations looking to take advantage of the latest innovations in Microsoft cloud offerings while maintaining critical content or custom applications on-premise," said Bill Baer, senior product manager for the SharePoint team, announcing the release on the SharePoint blog.
This deployment flexibility comes partly through the fact that SharePoint Server 2016 has been developed to share a common core platform with the cloud-based SharePoint Online, making it easier for customers to take advantage of SharePoint on-premise, in the cloud or in a hybrid scenario as their requirements dictate.
Microsoft also said that SharePoint Server 2016 offers a standardised set of APIs across server and cloud, simplifying the development of applications based on the platform.
As befits Microsoft's 'cloud first, mobile first' strategy, SharePoint Server 2016 also offers improved mobile access to content, people and applications with touch-based experiences across devices and screen sizes, Baer said.
File storage and document collaboration have been made easier, while closer integration with Office 365 means that SharePoint users can take advantage of "new productivity experiences" like Delve, which is designed to offer more personalised content.
Microsoft previously disclosed that the firm has effectively discontinued the InfoPath and SharePoint Designer applications, but SharePoint Server 2016 will continue to have the capability to host InfoPath Forms Services for the duration of its support lifecycle. It will also continue to support custom workflows built with SharePoint Designer.
Organisations preparing to deploy SharePoint Server 2016 can download the Release Candidate, which also includes the Project Server 2016 Release Candidate, via the Microsoft Download Centre.
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