Microsoft readies knowledge management server

Microsoft Corp. today said it has finalized the code for its new portal, search and document-management server and will ship it this spring.

The SharePoint Portal Server, which was codenamed Tahoe, was "released to manufacturing," which means the code is ready and is being committed to CD-ROM for distribution. The process typically takes 4 to 6 weeks.

Thirteen systems integrators pledged to offer services to get enterprises up and running with SharePoint, including Avanade, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Compaq Computer, Dell Computer, ePresence, Hewlett-Packard and Unisys.

Microsoft is touting SharePoint as an enterprisewide intranet portal that can index documents on file servers, Web servers, Exchange public folders, Lotus Notes databases and other data sources across an enterprise, and provide searching and publishing capabilities.

SharePoint is integrated with Windows 2000 and the forthcoming Office XP.

The product may create some confusion with enterprise customers since it has several features that overlap with Exchange 2000 and Office Server Extensions, which add document sharing and Web publishing capabilities to Office 2000.

In addition, SharePoint and Exchange 2000 incorporate Microsoft's Web Storage System, a universal repository that supports multiple file formats.

Microsoft officials say SharePoint is a cornerstone for knowledge management and will challenge Lotus, which was expected to ship its Discovery Server this month.

SharePoint has three main components: a user interface based on Microsoft's Digital Dashboard technology; document management features that allow check-in/check-out, version tracking and approval routing; and a search engine developed by Microsoft Research.

The search engine is similar to one in SQL Server 7.0, which uses a probabilistic search algorithm. SharePoint also has an adaptive crawling mechanism that remembers where the freshest data is on the network.

SharePoint, which was first introduced in January of 1999, runs on Windows 2000 with Service Pack 1 but does not require the use of Active Directory. It can be deployed as part of a Windows NT domain.

Pricing for SharePoint Portal Server is US$3,995 for a standalone server. Client licensing is $72 per user.

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