A while ago we announced on this blog that we’re changing the name of our product in the next major version of Office to be Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010.  This name change signals the start of a new chapter for Microsoft’s collaboration client.  SharePoint Workspace 2010 enables a whole new set of scenarios that will help you get more from your SharePoint deployment, and is now even easier to deploy and manage.  We’ll keep innovating on the client and the server to deliver the best software-plus-services collaboration experience.

Groove’s existing communication and collaboration capabilities remain intact and are enhanced, which should be welcome news for those of you already using Groove.  We’ll continue to provide a collaboration option for customers without access to SharePoint, and a unique way to work together across the network.

The SharePoint Workspace team has been designing, developing, and testing the 2010 release for quite some time, and using it every day for well over a year, and now we can share more details with you.  Many of the new capabilities require SharePoint 2010 – have a look at the SharePoint 2010 Sneak Peek site.

We’ll start by providing a high-level overview of the major investments and enhancements for SharePoint Workspace 2010, and in future posts we’ll go into more detail on the feature areas, including screenshots and more.

Overview of SharePoint Workspace 2010 investments

Work with SharePoint Content anytime, anywhere

A fundamental part of our vision is offering powerful content creation and management, with access to your content from anywhere.  Microsoft Office Groove 2007 already offers the ability to take SharePoint Document Libraries into Groove workspaces and share via our Peer + Relay architecture, and now we’re striving to provide the greatest breadth of capability, connectivity, and collaboration experience when working with site content, either offline or online, through seamless synchronization with SharePoint.  In SharePoint Workspace 2010 we’ve added:

· SharePoint Workspace:  A new workspace type that allows you to setup a synchronization relationship with all of the supported lists and libraries from a SharePoint site.  The workspace contains site content available for you to read and edit while you are offline, and will automatically synchronize with SharePoint when you’re back online.  New lists and libraries will automatically appear in the workspace when they are created (or customized) from SharePoint.  You can take all of your favorite SharePoint sites with library/list content with you when you’re on the go.

· SharePoint Document Library Support: SharePoint Workspaces support the common SharePoint document library variants, and provide enhanced capabilities directly within the client, like: check-in and check-out, multiple content types including folders, drag and drop for document creation and organization including from Outlook or Windows Explorer, version history, and metadata/property support.  Within these libraries, Microsoft Office documents gain all sorts of new capabilities including co-authoring, automatic merging, differential sync, and more.

· SharePoint List Support: SharePoint Workspaces can contain most standard SharePoint list types, including Discussion, Announcements, Links, and custom lists.  Form previewing and editing is provided through Microsoft InfoPath 2010 technology.

· Virtual Lists through Business Connectivity Services (BCS):  Pull down and work with your content from LOB applications or other external sources.

· Views:  Both public and private views of lists and libraries are supported.

· Read & Unread, and Alert Customization: You will be notified when content changes or there are new additions to a SharePoint site that you are synchronizing through unread icons and our notification UI.  These notifications can be customized to adapt to your information needs, on a per-workspace or list/library basis.

· Content Selection: Select individual libraries or lists for synchronization.  Easy one-click setup directly from the default SharePoint browser UI.  Recommended sites are shown during workspace creation, including those published by your SharePoint administrator.

· Broad Connectivity:  Our synchronization with SharePoint supports numerous connectivity options, including Windows domain authentication, Forms-Based authentication, SSL configurations, and Alternative Access Mappings - for internal, extranet, and Internet scenarios.

Better together with Office

Since Groove 2007 was introduced into to the Microsoft Office suite of products, we’ve heard from you that you want more features to improve overall usability and offer a consistent experience with other applications in the suite.  To this end we’ve added:

· Ribbon:  Office 2007 pioneered this new way of working within your application, and we’ve adopted it as well.  It has been designed to optimize our key scenarios while ensuring consistency across cross-product scenarios.

· Office Backstage: This new feature of Office 2010 provides a new view to increase the discoverability and usability for the contextual work that happens beyond the workspace.

· Cutting-Edge Collaborative Authoring:  SharePoint Workspaces support seamless collaborative authoring sessions for Word and PowerPoint documents that are hosted in SharePoint document libraries.

· Instantly Find Documents, Lists, Attachments, and More:  Your local documents and lists are easier to find and organize than ever before.  Workspaces are automatically indexed and available through the familiar Windows Search user interface.

· Access Workspace Documents Directly from Office Applications: Offline documents can be opened or saved from Office applications through integration with the Windows Explorer.  Navigate local folders like they were part of your Windows drive.

· New Contact Card with Integrated Presence:  Office Communicator streamlines communication by allowing you to utilize its capabilities within the SharePoint Workspace application.  Communicator presence is displayed directly in the Groove workspace member pane.

· Standard Office Features:  We included numerous other features that are consistent with Office 2010 applications like:  a 64-bit native client; support for IPv6 networking; Single Sign-On authentication; new language support including full IME, mirroring, and complex scripts; native integration with standard management tools like Active Directory; continuous help publishing through Office Online; and much more.

Expect to hear more about these enhancements in detail in future posts, along with others that haven’t been mentioned yet. In the meantime, enjoy SharePoint Workspace 2010...