SharePoint 2016 is Microsoft's document management and collaboration tool with a software-as-a-service strategy at its core. Like SharePoint 2013, the product is offered in the cloud as part of the Office 365 suite and is known as SharePoint Online; the on-premises version is known as SharePoint Server 2016.
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With this version of SharePoint, Microsoft has restricted the offering to be more of a traditional document management tool and migrated other collaboration, social media and enterprise search to the wider Office 365 offering, through applications such as:
- Delve - a data visualization and discovery tool that incorporates elements of social networking and machine learning with the search capability of the Office 365 suite.
- Office Graph - a back-end tool in the Office 365 Suite that facilitates search across integrated applications and applies machine learning to organizational interactions and content use.
- Sway - a presentation tool in the Office suite.
- Yammer - a private microblogging and collaboration platform for enterprise social networking.
While Microsoft is focusing the lion's share of its development roadmap on SharePoint Online, it will continue to release an on-premises version of SharePoint, as customers may have compliance requirements that require certain data to be kept on premises or because they cannot migrate all of their data to the cloud.
New and updated SharePoint 2016 features
Notable features in SharePoint 2016 include:
- Access services: Users can support Office 365 apps or download Excel features to pivot Access tables. Microsoft also improved related item control where users can add new items.
- Compliance features: The In-Place Hold Policy Center and the Compliance Center enable administrators to build policies and apply them against their SharePoint environment. The updated features allow users to delete documents from their OneDrive for Business sites.
- Document library accessibility: Users can use landmarks for a page to make it easier to navigate, keyboard shortcuts for document tasks, announcements for upload progress, improved callout readings and updates to the help documentation.
- More durable links.
- Improved encrypted connections.
- Expanded filenames: Support for file names with special characters, leading with dots, and longer than 128 characters will no longer be blocked.
- Hybrid: With advancements in hybrid options, there is better integration with Office 365 tools. Users are able to use Office 365 services like Delve, Sway and Office Graph with SharePoint 2013 as well.
- Improved ability to identify and search for sensitive content.
- Image and video previews.
- Information rights management.
- Large file support: Users can now exceed the previous 2 GB limit for files. Though there's no real limit, Microsoft recommends a 10 GB maximum.
- MinRole: Administrators can now install only the roles they want on SharePoint servers.
- Mobile experience: Touch-friendly mobile interface. Users can also switch from mobile view to PC view.
- New controls for OneDrive for Business.
- New recycle bin in OneDrive.
- Open document format (ODF): This enables users to create files in a document library and save files in ODF to later edit with a program of the user's choosing.
- Project server: Project managers can request resources from other resource managers and use a heat map functionality to see where resources spend time. They can also create multiple timelines. Project server also has improved backup and restoration capabilities.
- SharePoint business intelligence: Users have added access to business intelligence including Power Pivot Gallery, scheduled data research, workbooks as a data source, Power Pivot management dashboard, Power Views reports, Power View subscriptions and report alerts.
- Improvements to SharePoint search.
- Improvements to sharing features: Users can see who is sharing a folder and can invite and approve or deny access requests easily.
- Sites page pinning: Users can pin sites to follow them on premises and through Office 365.
Deprecated SharePoint features
Here are the features that have been removed from the SharePoint 2016 server:
- SharePoint Foundation: SharePoint Foundation is a free edition which provides a secure, web-based collaboration platform. It is not available in SharePoint Server 2016, but is still available in SharePoint 2013.
- Stand-alone install mode: This feature is no longer available on SharePoint 2016. It has been replaced by the MinRole farm topology.
- ForeFront identity manager client (FIM): FIM synchronizes between Active Directory and SharePoint. SharePoint 2016 does not use FIM, but instead uses Microsoft Identity Manager 2016 or another third-party tool.
- Excel services: Excel capabilities are no longer hosted on SharePoint Server. Instead, it is part of Excel Online in Office Online Server.
- SharePoint BI capabilities: Power Pivot and Power View for BI solutions are not deployed in SharePoint 2016. Power Pivot for SharePoint and Power View for SharePoint add-ins can only be deployed with SharePoint 2016 when SQL Server 2016 is downloaded.
- Tags and Notes: Users can still create new tags and access any existing ones, but Microsoft discourages using the feature as it will be removed in the next release of SharePoint.
- Work management service application: This application has been removed from SharePoint 2016, including My Tasks and other associated Exchange Task Sync features.
SharePoint 2016 architecture changes and options
Since SharePoint Server 2016 has the same code as SharePoint Online, on-premises customers have the same benefits of support and performance for their SharePoint server farms thanks to a few architecture changes.
SharePoint 2013 and previous editions relied on service deployments to patch problem servers. SharePoint 2016 has MinRole, a streamlined topology that has a server in a SharePoint farm which runs an explicit set of services based on its role, and has no other services turned on. This allows for more flexibility, easy fixes, and quick updates to each server resulting in faster and more reliable service.
There are four architectural models for SharePoint 2016:
SharePoint Online: SharePoint is delivered using a software-as-a-service subscription model. Microsoft provides updates automatically, but the customer is responsible for SharePoint management.
SharePoint Hybrid: The combination of a SharePoint Online subscription with an on-premises version of SharePoint. With this approach, customers can meld SharePoint Online services into their overall SharePoint environment, while creating a bridge to ultimately migrate SharePoint sites and apps to the cloud.
SharePoint in Azure: Customers can extend their on-premises SharePoint farms to Microsoft's Azure Infrastructure as a Service cloud for production, disaster recovery and testing SharePoint Server 2016 environments.
SharePoint on premises: Customers maintain control over all the planning, deployments, maintenance and customizations of their SharePoint environments within their own data centers.
SharePoint 2016 vs. 2013
SharePoint 2013 contains multiple features that have been deprecated from SharePoint Server 2016 including Duet, SharePoint Foundation, FIM, SharePoint BI capabilities, and Tags and Notes. The biggest and most notable difference between SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016 is that SharePoint 2016 was built to integrate easily with Office 365 applications. SharePoint 2016 also allows wizard hybrid configuration and hybrid search, while SharePoint 2013 does not.