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A lot can change in three years. Case in point: Since the release of SharePoint 2013, Microsoft's focus has shifted from on-premises deployments to Office 365 and SharePoint Online, with a roadmap clearly encouraging users to migrate everything to the cloud.
Redmond has since tempered that stance, and has shifted to touting desirable cloud services as incentives for on-premises users to consider hybrid deployments. Given the circumstances, what new features should we expect for SharePoint 2016?
On-premises SharePoint won't go through substantial changes for the 2016 release. This is because Microsoft is pushing toward its cloud service offerings like SharePoint Online through the Office 365 suite. Microsoft has been releasing SharePoint Online feature updates on a fairly regular basis. Two recent examples include Delve and the Office 365 video portal. Both features are new to SharePoint, but haven't yet made it into the on-premises version.
In SharePoint 2016 and beyond, customers should see the same historical patterns for upgrades. SharePoint will continue to receive incremental user experience improvements. Expect improvements in mobile experience and the integration with the upcoming Office 2016 products. Performance and threshold boundaries will also improve, as we've seen with SharePoint Online. Finally, Microsoft will continue to extend its development models, exposing more and more of the product through Web service-based programming models that will allow for a larger add-on ecosystem.
When SharePoint 2016 was announced, Microsoft stated that it's committed to on-premises for the foreseeable future, but this will likely be the last on-premises version. Future versions of SharePoint will focus almost exclusively on the software as a service model. In the near term, Microsoft will continue to push more functionality into SharePoint Online first, and then potentially deliver some of that to on-premises implementations.
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