Thursday, March 21, 2013

March Public Update for SharePoint 2013 available and mandatory

The product group recently released the March 2013 Public Update (PU) for the SharePoint 2013 product family.

Important: Due to a change in the package configuration introduced after SharePoint 2013 RTM the March Public update is a mandatory requirement in order to install subsequent SharePoint 2013 Updates.

That means that in order to install future cumulative updates for SharePoint 2013 it will be mandatory to first install the March public update.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Friendlier licensing model for SharePoint 2013

The SharePoint licensing model for anything other than intranet-only implementations was confusing. Even Microsoft representatives were prone to providing incorrect or inconsistent licensing requirement information.

With 2013, Microsoft has vastly simplified the SharePoint licensing model:

  • All SharePoint implementation scenarios (for anonymous users and/or internal users) require a SharePoint Server license.
  • A client access license (CAL) is still required for each user, in deployments that include internal users. A standard CAL comes with about roughly half of SharePoint functionality. The enterprise CAL provides full functionality.

This change carries two significant implications:

  • A drastic reduction in licensing for SharePoint 2013 in Internet-facing, web-content management. The onerous and expensive Internet Connector license is no longer required. You can now deploy enterprise-quality web-content management features about 70-80 percent less expensively than in 2010. We have built many great Internet-facing web sites on previous versions of SharePoint and our clients love them. The new model is an unqualified game changer for the web-content management market and a must-have for any SharePoint shop considering a website refresh.
  • The murkiness associated with licensing extranet deployment is gone. All you need now is a SharePoint Server for anonymous users, and CALs for internal users accessing your portal.

Yammer and SharePoint: Enterprise Social Roadmap Update

At last November's SharePoint Conference, Microsoft announced our roadmap for enterprise social and talked about three phases of Yammer integration: "basic integration, deeper connections, and connected experiences."  (For more details, see the Putting Social to Work post I published just after the SPC keynote.)  Today at Convergence 2013 Microsoft provided an update to that roadmap, and I wanted to share the details more broadly. 

Yammer and Office 365.  During the Office keynote today, Microsoft demoed the integration of Yammer and Dynamics CRM (Customer Relationship Management).  Microsoft shipped this update last month, and Microsoft love the scenario-social plus CRM is a natural fit.  But CRM integration is only one part of a broader set of work Microsoft’s doing to make Yammer the social layer across all of our products.  Our next step is integration with Office 365, and Microsoft’s now ready to share more details on what will be available when.  Here's what you need to know:
  • Basic Integration. This summer Microsoft will update the Office 365 service and allow customers to replace the SharePoint newsfeed with Yammer. Many customers are worried about confusing their users with two different feeds, and this update will allow them to simply replace the "Newsfeed" link on the Office 365 global navigation bar with a link to Microsoft will also ship a Yammer app in the SharePoint Store so that end users can easily embed a Yammer group feed into a SharePoint site, creating a connection between groups and sites that will deliver the best of both worlds. The SharePoint newsfeed will continue to be the default social experience in Office 365, but the option to replace it with Yammer will be a valuable first step in the overall integration process.
  • Deeper Connections. This fall Microsoft will deliver another update to Office 365 and deepen the integration. Customers will still have the option of choosing between Yammer and the SharePoint newsfeed, but this new, integrated Yammer experience will offer Single Sign-On (SSO) and seamless navigation. In other words, when you click on the Yammer link in the Office 365 global navigation bar, Yammer will appear immediately below with the navigation to get back to Office 365 services such as Outlook and Sites. You will also see the user experiences of Yammer and Office 365 begin to converge (see the concept mock below to get a directional sense). This new Yammer experience will also offer rich document capabilities, integrating the Office Web Apps to add editing and co-editing of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents.  

  • Connected Experiences. As we move into 2014, we'll continue updating Office 365 with new social enhancements roughly every 90 days. We'll start by simply deepening the connections between Yammer and Office 365 services, but over time these incremental enhancements will combine social, collaboration, email, instant messaging, voice, video, and line of business applications in innovative new ways. This is an exciting time and a hot space, and I can't wait to share more about our plans in the future.
Yammer and SharePoint Server.  Now of course we recognize that a lot of SharePoint customers are still on-premises.  They're working on their upgrade plans and want to find a way to connect their Yammer network with their on-premises deployment of SharePoint 2013.  So as part of the summer update, we'll also provide guidance for replacing the SharePoint newsfeed on-premises with Yammer.  The Yammer app in the SharePoint Store will be a valuable addition, allowing customers to create connections between Yammer groups and on-premises SharePoint sites.  While we don't plan on delivering updates for SharePoint Server every 90 days, many of the enhancements to the Yammer service described above will still be valuable in this scenario.  The SSO, updated UX, seamless navigation, and Office Web App integration will all deepen the connections between your Yammer network and your on-premises SharePoint deployment. 

What should I do?  In my customer meetings over the last few months, people have often asked, "What should I use for social?  Yammer or the SharePoint newsfeed?"  My answer has been clear: Go Yammer!  Yammer is our big bet for enterprise social, and Microsoft’s committed to making it the underlying social layer for all of our products.  It will power the social experiences in SharePoint, Office 365, Dynamics, and more.   Yammer's unique adoption model appeals directly to end users and makes it easy to start enjoying the benefits of social immediately.  And because it's an online service, Yammer gives us the ability to innovate rapidly-updating the service quickly as the market evolves.  So whether you're an Office 365 customer or running SharePoint on-premises, Yammer will provide the latest innovations and best user experience.

What if I just can't use Yammer?  For all my exuberance about Yammer, I recognize that some organizations just don't feel comfortable with multi-tenant cloud services.  For these customers, our guidance is to use the SharePoint newsfeed.  It provides rich social features integrated with a broad set of SharePoint capabilities.  While the cloud lowers the barriers to adoption and allows for more frequent updates, we get that some customers just aren't ready to make the move.  (Some customers, in fact, are adamant that they'll NEVER move to a multi-tenant service.)  When it comes to the cloud, we're "all in," but we're also realistic.  We have a large on-premises installed base that's important to us, and we're committed to future releases of the server.

Acquisitions can be tricky business, but we're extremely pleased with our progress so far.  Yammer has continued to innovate and grow their standalone business, and the packaging and pricing changes we announced at the SharePoint Conference last year have made the Yammer service more accessible than ever before.  But the most exciting thing for me is that we're just getting started.  Today's roadmap update provides a little more insight into how we're planning to integrate Yammer with Office 365 and SharePoint.  But we're out to change the world, and there's much more to come. 

Service descriptions for SharePoint Online and on-premises SharePoint 2013 solutions

Are you looking for a list of SharePoint 2013 features? Perhaps you’re trying to figure out which SharePoint offering is right for your organization. Do you need SharePoint Foundation, SharePoint Standard, or SharePoint Enterprise Edition?

If this sounds like you, then the SharePoint Online Service Description might be what you’re looking for. Don’t let the name fool you. This article is actually a single source of truth for SharePoint Online feature capabilities, and also for on-premises SharePoint solutions. That way you can compare all of the options available to you.

The SharePoint Online Service Description has been recently updated to reflect the company’s release of SharePoint 2013.  The service description includes short, 1-2 sentence descriptions of the features, but if you want to dig deeper and learn more we've also included links to the Help content that explores a feature in-depth.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

BI Solution Builder

Recently, Microsoft released the BI Solution Builder (, an online tool that you can use to find out what business intelligence capabilities are available to you based on what your organization currently owns. It's quick and easy to use, and it can help you put your BI environment to work in short order.

For example, if your organization is using SharePoint Server 2013 together with Office, the tool can point you to what BI capabilities are available, as shown in Figure 1. You can also preview additional BI capabilities with other Microsoft products that you might not own yet (also shown in Figure 1).

Matrix that shows available capabilities based on products owned

Figure 1. Interactive matrix showing available and desired capabilities

You specify what you own and what you want to do, and the tool takes it from there. At a glance, you can see what’s available, what’s possible, and where to go to learn more. The BI Solution Builder provides you with an easy-to-use report that contains links to additional resources and information, as shown in Figure 2.

Report listing products, capabilities, and links to additional information
Figure 2. Example of a BI Solution Builder report

Installing SP2013 Updates with HA Search Enabled

The March Public Update (PU) for SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Foundation
2013 is available. 
For servers that include search components, you have to follow specific steps to ensure that you install the PU correctly. For a high availability search topology, you use Windows PowerShell cmdlets to patch a Search service application.

Install the SharePoint March PU on servers running search components

For each server running search components, follow these steps:
  • On the server running SharePoint Server 2013, stop the following Windows Services in this order:
    1. SPTimerV4
    2. OSearch15
    3. SPSearchHostController
Note: The reason why you need to stop the SPTimerV4 service first is because the SPTimerV4 service monitors the SPSearchHostController service. The SPTimerV4 service will start the SPSearchHostController service it if it finds that the SPSearchHostController is stopped. Therefore, if the SPTimerV4 service is running after you stop the SPSearchHostController service, the SPTimerV4 service might start the SPSearchHostController without you noticing it.
  • Install the update package on the server by following the instructions that come with the update package.
  • Restart the Windows Services in the following order:

  1. SPSearchHostController
  2. OSearch15
  3. SPTimerV4

Mission-critical multiple-server search topology

To perform server patching on a high availability search topology, use Windows PowerShell.

1. Verify that you have the following memberships and roles:
    • securityadmin fixed server role on the SQL Server instance.
    • db_owner fixed database role on all databases that are to be updated.
    • Administrators group on the server on which you are running the Windows PowerShell cmdlets.

Note: An administrator can use the Add-SPShellAdmin cmdlet to grant permissions to use SharePoint 2013 cmdlets. If you do not have permissions, contact your Setup administrator or SQL Server administrator to request permissions. For additional information about Windows PowerShell permissions, see Add-SPShellAdmin
 2. Start the SharePoint 2013 Management Shell.
  • For Windows Server 2008 R2: On the Start menu, click All Programs, click Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Products, and then click SharePoint 2013 Management Shell.
  • For Windows Server 2012: On the Start screen, click SharePoint 2013 Management Shell.
If SharePoint 2013 Management Shell is not on the Start screen:
  • Right-click Computer, click All apps, and then click SharePoint 2013 Management Shell.
For more information about how to interact with Windows Server 2012, see Common Management Tasks and Navigation in Windows Server 2012.
3. Assign a variable for the Search service application. 
  • At the Windows PowerShell command prompt, type the following command:
4. Determine the server groups for patching. 
  • You split the servers associated with the search topology into three groups, where there is a checkpoint between each group of servers.
  • To determine the primary search administration component and the server where the component runs, type the following command at the Windows PowerShell command prompt:
Get-SPEnterpriseSearchStatus -SearchApplication $ssa | where { (($_.State-ne "Unknown") -and ($_.Name -match "Admin")) } | ForEach {if (Get-SPEnterpriseSearchStatus -SearchApplication $ssa -Component $_.Name-Primary) { Get-SPEnterpriseSearchTopology -SearchApplication $ssa -active | Get-SPEnterpriseSearchComponent -identity $($_.Name) } }
  • Determine the servers in group 1.
The set of servers must fulfill the following requirements:
The set must contain one or more, but not all, of the following types of Search components:
    • Content processing component 
    • Crawl component
    • Index component
    • The set must contain one or more, but not all, of the index components for each index partition.
    • The set must contain the non-primary search administration component
    • Query processing component
    • Analytics processing component 
  • Determine the servers in group 2. 
This group must contain all remaining servers except the server that hosts the primary search administration component.
  • Group 3 consists of the server that hosts the primary search administration component.
5. Perform the required patching of servers in group 1. 
See the procedure “Install the SharePoint March PU on servers running search components” earlier in this article.
6. After you complete the patching, wait until all search components are running.
  • From a Windows PowerShell command prompt, type the following command until the output no longer lists any search components . The command will only list search components that are not in the “Active” state:
Get-SPEnterpriseSearchStatus -SearchApplication $ssa | where {$_.State -ne "Active"} | fl
7. Perform the required patching of servers in group 2. 
  • See the procedure “Install the SharePoint March PU on servers running search components” earlier in this article.
8. After you complete the patching, wait until all search components are running.
  • From a Windows PowerShell command prompt, type the following command until the output no longer lists any search components. The command will only list search components that are not in the “Active” state:
Get-SPEnterpriseSearchStatus -SearchApplication $ssa | where {$_.State -ne "Active"} | fl
9. Perform the required patching of servers in group 3. 
  • See the procedure “Install the SharePoint March PU on servers running search components” earlier in this article.
Note: During this step, you will experience a few minutes of query downtime while a search administration component failover takes place.
10. After you complete the patching, wait until all search components are running.
  • From a Windows PowerShell command prompt, type the following command until the output no longer lists any search components. The command will only list search components that are not in the “Active” state:
Get-SPEnterpriseSearchStatus -SearchApplication $ssa | where {$_.State -ne "Active"} | fl

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Monday, March 11, 2013

SharePoint 2013 Collaborating with Videos

Intranet video portals for the enterprise are gaining popularity because they are effective for sharing information across the entire organization. SharePoint 2013 does a great job supporting video communications-from sharing a video across a team site to building a knowledge management/video portal for the enterprise.In SharePoint 2013, videos are treated as a content type as opposed to just a file, which provides a more complete experience for creating, uploading, finding, sharing, and viewing videos.

Organizing Videos

In SharePoint 2013, videos are organized in a manner similar to document sets, which is a group of related documents that can be created in a single step and managed as one entity. SharePoint creates a stub (think of it as a folder) to hold a video and all the related contents, such as user-defined properties, thumbnails, video renditions, and other documents related to the video. When you upload a video file, SharePoint automatically creates this stub for that video. You can imagine the video set to be the encapsulation of everything related to that video.

New Video Player Page

SharePoint 2013 offers a video player page for each video, which surfaces the video with its metadata and all the properties the user fills in. These include name, description, owner, the people in video, and keywords-to name a few. Videos can be played from the video player page.

The video player page offers the ability to add related items. Imagine you upload a video of a presentation, but you also want to add the PowerPoint deck used in that presentation for your viewers. In SharePoint 2013, it's right alongside! Simply drag and drop the relevant files that you feel the viewers of this video should see. Everything is in a single page!

Media Players

SharePoint 2013 has a built-in HTML5 media player that is used to play all video files that are compatible with the HTML5 <video> implementation for the current browser. This means you can now play videos on mobile devices such as iOS that don't support Silverlight. If the format is not playable by the HTML5 player, then we use Silverlight. The video is auto-played when the user opens the video player page. The player streams video content using the BLOB cache, progressive streaming, and bit-rate throttling in the same manner as the SharePoint 2010 media player.

Video Player Page

Uploading Videos

Videos can be uploaded to any library, but you can get the most out of SharePoint if you upload videos to a library that has the video content type enabled. For example, the Asset Library, which is customized for storing digital assets. You can enable the video content type in other libraries by adding video from the existing site content types in the library settings.

Videos can be uploaded to SharePoint or surfaced via SharePoint. To surface videos from external sources on a SharePoint site, you can upload by selecting the 'Files' tab on the ribbon, in the new group, choosing a video from the new document drop-down menu gives you three options:  

  • Upload video from my computer: Use this option to upload videos from your computer using Windows Explorer.
  • Provide a link to a video: Use this option to provide a link to a video file that resides in another site (such as videos from other SharePoint sites or file shares). It is important to note that your URL should point to a video stream file and not to a video player URL.
  • Provide code to embed a video from the web: Use this option to paste the embed code for your video from anywhere on the web (for example, YouTube). So, if your organization has a channel on YouTube with a collection of videos, you can now keep track and view those videos on your internal SharePoint site. Although the video file is not physically stored in SharePoint, SharePoint knows how to treat each of these files and ensures you get the relevant features regardless of the way you create them.
Video Edit Form

Video Thumb-nailing

There are two types of thumbnails for videos, Server-generated and user-selected. In server-generated thumb-nailing, all that you have to do is upload your videos to a library with the video content type enabled, and SharePoint automatically generates thumbnails for your videos without you having to do anything else.

Use the client-side thumbnail generator to set those perfect moments as thumbnails for your videos, in case the server-generated thumbnail is not the one you want to use. The thumbnail generator can be accessed from the video edit form. When you choose the change thumbnail link, you get an option to capture thumbnail from video, use a picture from my computer, or use a picture from a web address.

Video Metadata

Video tagging, rating, and view count features take you a step closer in personalizing your video experience. You can now tag people in videos to help viewers know the people in that video. Enabling ratings from the library settings lets viewers rate your videos. This is especially useful when you want to have a way for your users to view the most rated or most popular videos in your portal. 

Reference: Official Microsoft SharePoint Blog