What does Windows 8 mean to SharePoint?

In early 2013, Microsoft will release SharePoint apps for use with Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Android and iOS devices.  This will mean that SharePoint will be readily available to more users without corporate licenses to Office 365.

More users using and familiarizing themselves with SharePoint will increase corporate use of the technology.  As it is, companies that are using SharePoint to store, organize and share their documents and projects are operating SharePoint 2010.  Companies that purchased 2010 bought it as a stand-alone upgrade to their network file sharing systems.  IT personnel were tasked with complex systems integration for implementing the program into their company servers, then uploading as many documents as were necessary to make the system useful to the end users.

After all of that work, many companies found that getting their employees to understand and use SharePoint was difficult.  For one, the new cloud technology that allows for easier accessibility of documents for collaboration is rendered useless if the end users continue to send e-mails to each other with their project documents attached.  But that is what workers are used to doing.  Part of it is the process or investment companies take in ensuring that their employees are familiar with the software and are trained on its uses.

This release of Windows 8 with SharePoint will make those innovative tools ubiquitous for Windows users.  The more familiar people are with those apps on their phones and tablets, the easier the transition to the same technology in a desktop office setting.

One cool feature that will ensure that more users will become more familiar with the features of SharePoint is the Windows 8 start page.  The start page for the desktop can be customized using Windows 8 styling to display “tiles” from SharePoint 2013, listing all of the areas of importance for each individual user.  For example, e-mails from colleagues or meeting notices would be in a tile showing the latest message for you.  You can add your calendar to a tile on your start page, so that each day, when you open your browser on your desktop or unlock your mobile device, your tiles will be the first thing you see in one handy place.  The SharePoint cloud technology makes it all possible.

And it’s not only handy for business use; you can also place your music playlists on a tile on your Windows 8 start page.  You can add a weather app so you know what the temperature, weather or traffic will be for your commute, and you can add the SharePoint Newsfeed app to your start page to keep track of the people and documents that you are following.

Also, the new SkyDrive Pro app will be available as part of the Office Hub on the Windows Phone 8, so that users will still be able to access information saved in SharePoint for use offline.  Because your personal settings are stored in the cloud and automatically synced with SkyDrive, SharePoint and any local drive that Office is launched from, you can still access your projects even after leaving the office for the day or when working from a different computer or device.

That said, the new Office 2013 suite will run on Windows 7 and 8, tablets, mobile phones, PCs, notebooks and Windows Server 2008 on, but it will not run on Windows XP or Vista.  Therefore, many current Windows users will be required to upgrade to Windows 8 before accessing these new features.

In the race for cloud technology dominance between Microsoft and Google, Microsoft still holds the edge because of its many office features that are used by so many individuals and corporations.  Adding SharePoint to their release of Windows 8 will help to keep the race for supremacy neck and neck with the slight edge going to Microsoft.