I have been working on a new e-book that provides a tutorial on ‘Getting Started with SharePoint Online for Small Business’ and I was struck by how poorly SharePoint has once again been promoted by Microsoft.
To explain what I mean take a look at the ‘default’ SharePoint version on Small Business Server 2010 (i.e. Companyweb), which many small businesses have seen.
Here’s you’ll find Shared Documents, a Calendar, Tasks and a Picture library. In contrast have a look at what you get the Office 365 Team Site for the Professional and Small Business versions (P SKU).
All you basically get is a page with a Posts web part and a single document library. Every other feature has to be added manually. Given that most people coming to Office 365 have probably never seen SharePoint having such a bland page, devoid of simple features like a calendar, wiki, contacts list does the SharePoint product no justice in my eyes. Many will look at it and wonder what it is for. Others will simply use it as a place to save documents without utilizing any of the features that sets SharePoint apart, like, sorting, filtering, views, meta data, just to name a few.
To me it would have made much more sense to provide a standard Team Site for SharePoint Online for the Professional and Small Business version. This Team Site has many of the standard features already exposed and ready for use. I’d pretty much bet that most people using this version of Office 365 would make use of a shared calendar at the very least.
My guess would be that Microsoft used this Express version of the Team Site to reduce the complexity and make it simple to users new to SharePoint but honestly I think that it actually going to achieve the reverse. It is going to make them shy away from using SharePoint because they can’t see many of the features. To me it makes more sense for the items to be there and not be used than to be hidden from users who would have no idea that they even exist and how to go about adding them.
Keep you eye peeled for the next blog post where I’ll provide you with the information about my new e-Book (for only $USD 1.99) that provides a basic tutorial on getting started with SharePoint Online. You’ll find it my online bookstore along with other SharePoint titles and tutorials.
I certainly hope that people using Office 365 take the time to delve into SharePoint to find out how powerful it is but honestly Microsoft have not made it easy or enticing have they now?