MIT Technology Review has been looking at collaboration approaches and tools during March, and has finally devoted an article to SharePoint.
“The collaboration tools discussed this month in Business Impact all have one thing in common. One way or another, they will run up against the market leader: Microsoft’s SharePoint software, which is used by more than 100 million people around the world.“
I feel the article gives a “populist” view on SharePoint, but doesn’t get the underlying data correct.
1. In the paragraph above, it says that SharePoint is “used by more than 100 million people around the world.” That’s wrong. The actual claim by Bill Gates in March 2008 was that Microsoft has sold 100 million licenses, not that they have 100 million users. See Lies, Damned Lies, and SharePoint Licenses for more.
2. In paragraph two of the article, it says “customers like the fact that it works well with other widely used Microsoft products, such as Exchange e-mail and the Office software package.” Based on my analysis of SharePoint 2007 and 2010, the reality is different. I would say that customers believe that SharePoint works well with Outlook, Exchange, and Office, but when they start using it, figure out that it actually doesn’t. For example, Outlook/Exchange have calendaring capabilities, and so does SharePoint 2007 and 2010, but the integration is terrible. Download the free summary document of SharePoint 7 Pillars for more on this. There are multiple examples of where the integration is bad – eg, you can’t even drag-and-drop an email from Outlook to a SharePoint Document Library that’s been connected to Outlook, without buying a third-party product. That’s just plain wrong.
3. Paragraph three of the article talks about SharePoint being customizable, and that organizations add third-party products. It’s phrased in a way this is a good thing (and in some ways it is), but when Microsoft claims that SharePoint does particular things, and the reality comes up short, customers that have purchased SharePoint have little choice but to spend more to fix the shortcomings. For more, see The Cost of SharePoint = License Fee x9 (It’s a Microsoft Figure) and What Does It Actually Mean to Offer a “Platform”? – Reconsidering the SharePoint Decision.
4. SharePoint has had a huge impact on the market – there is no denying that. But when you actually look at what it does technically, there are major areas of weakness.