SharePoint 2016 IT PreviewIf you keep up with SharePoint news at all, you have very likely heard that Microsoft recently dropped the beta 1 build of SharePoint 2016 (or more affectionately called the IT Preview) to much fanfare.  It was first debuted at the Microsoft Ignite conference primarily by Senior Technical Product Manager Bill Baer.  In case you missed it, I strongly encourage you to check it out on Channel9.  During Ignite and since then, there have been a lot of announcements of the vision for SharePoint 2016 and what’s included, new features, etc.  With the release of the public beta, there are lots of folks in the community who have written about these new features and how to install it.  I do plan on writing about my thoughts on these features and what it means for the future of SharePoint, but I wanted to focus on what’s missing from the new platform for my first blog on 2016.  There will be plenty of time that I, and others, can discuss all the new and shiny, but for now let’s look at the elephant in the room (or rather not in the room as it were). 

From My Cold Dead Hands

TechNet has been updated to include a list of features / functions / technologies that will not be included or updated in SharePoint 2016 in the article What's deprecated or removed from SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview.  Notice it says “from 2016 IT Preview”.  This means it is subject to change.  All the information you are seeing from new stuff to pulled features could change between now and when the product releases.  Having said that, it’s unlikely that these core features will all of a sudden get included by RTM.  Let’s take a look and discuss these features.

SharePoint Foundation is Dead

Well, sort of.  You could always pay for SharePoint to get all the greatness in the platform dubbed SharePoint Server (or MOSS), but you always had the option to download a minimal-featured version called Foundation (or WSS).  Foundation would allow you to have simplistic and basic core features of sites, document management and search at no cost.  Now that has changed, and Microsoft will not be offering a free version of the upcoming new 2016 platform.  Bill Baer again confirmed this in a recent SharePoint yamjam in the Office 365 Network on Yammer:

No SharePoint Foundation for SharePoint 2016

If you think about it, this sort of makes sense.  Bill states in the Ignite session, that 2013 is the snapshot for future builds. Taking a look at the investment areas for 2016:  It’s more focused on under the covers infrastructure and services and hybrid scenarios.  If you already have Office 365 you’re not using Foundation anyway, or if you need the changes to User Profiles and other improvements, this wasn’t included in Foundation either.   

Where’s My SharePoint Designer?SharePoint Designer 2016

Similarly to SharePoint Foundation but not mentioned here on TechNet, there will not be a new version of SharePoint Designer for SharePoint 2016 either.  I know, I can hear you now:

  • How will I write workflow?
  • How do I brand my stuff?
  • Why are you doing this to me?

Again, it’s not DEAD.  You will be able to use SharePoint Designer 2013 (don’t forget SP1) to open and configure/customize/whatever your SharePoint 2016 sites.  If you read into this, this just confirms that the core features around sites, lists, libraries, branding elements like master pages, page layouts, BCS and especially workflows aren’t changing.  Will this get replaced by functionality in Visual Studio free edition?  Who knows, but I will keep saying this is subject to change, and at this point we don’t know if there will be a service to provide some updates, or something else entirely.  This was first heard via Q&A after a session at Ignite with Senior Product Manager Mark Kashman that was cut from the recording, so look for more information on this. 

Can’t Stand Alone

When installing SharePoint 2016, you previously had the option to install a standalone mode that would install SQL Express or SQL desktop edition (depending which version of SharePoint we’re talking).  This was nice for very small implementations, but following the removal of Foundation, you can’t do any standalone installs and MSDE/SQL Express are not supported.  In SharePoint 2016, you can choose a “Single Server” installation, but this requires an installation of full SQL Server standard or higher on the same server.  This option is one of many new options part of the MinRole functionality you can read about.  In a recent YamJam, someone asked what the favorite features were of the SharePoint development team, and Bill Baer said MinRole was at the top of his list. 

Goodbye FIM

FIM Removed from SharePoint 2016 SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 included a scaled-down version of Forefront Identity Manager to handle bidirectional sync between SharePoint and Active Directory.  This built-in feature has been removed from SharePoint 2016.  This doesn’t mean you can’t sync information from AD to SharePoint.  When you configure the sync in 2013, whether you knew it or not, you could choose “profile synchronization” which used FIM, or Active Directory import.  FIM absolutely had its issues, but it was nice being able to open the MIISclient.exe and seeing granular details of the sync process.  There are some differences between AD and profile sync, and you can read about how to set up AD import in 2013 on TechNet.  So just be aware that for 2016, the profile sync (FIM) option is removed, and the AD import method is likely being augmented.

You have two options:

  1. Use the AD import method
  2. Install the new Microsoft Identity Management (MIM) product on a separate server and wire that to SharePoint

Details on the MIM will be configured and capabilities for SharePoint are still TBD.  You can hear Bill discuss this in his "What’s New for IT Pros" Ignite Session on Channel9.

Excel Services

This is another case of Microsoft disabling one product for another.  Excel Services, web parts and functionality in its current form is being killed off.  HOWEVER, the equivalent functionality is being made available by a new product, an evolved version of Office Web Apps called Office Online Server (currently in preview).  Excel Online in Office Online server will provide the features you need to work with Excel in SharePoint 2016. 

Powered SharePoint BIPower BI

Don’t be scared, you will still be able to create dashboards and do Excel BI in SharePoint 2016.  I actually see two facets to this, though the article only talks about one.  It describes you can’t YET do Power Pivot galleries, data refresh, power view reports and all the other stuff you got to do if you installed the BI capabilities in SQL Server, then activated Power View and Power Pivot in SharePoint.  But fret not, it will function and be available by RTM, it’s just not available in the public beta.

The other thing I wanted to mention here, that they don’t, is PerformancePoint (because it’s not being removed).  If you watch Bill’s session above from Ignite, you will hear Bill mention that PerformancePoint (and some other services) will be back ported and available to SharePoint 2016. What does that mean?  It just means you shouldn’t expect to see any changes between 2013 and 2016 for PerformancePoint.  This actually isn’t surprising at all given their push with Power BI.  For now PerformancePoint is still there as it is, but I would certainly expect to see this go away with more maturity from Power BI and enhancements with the Data Management Gateway. 

imageHashtag #Tags and Notes

This is absolutely no big surprise here.  With all the changes in social for SharePoint in 2013 and Yammer-like feeds, they are killing off the Tags and Notes feature as it’s pretty much irrelevant.  They do give you some PowerShell to be able to export the data. 


I find this funny because this has been “deprecated” for a few SharePoint versions now but it still lingers on.  It reminds me of public folders for Exchange, it just won’t die.  There are still things that you can’t do in PowerShell that requires stsadm.  At least now it appears this has changed and all dependencies on stsadm are removed from SharePoint 2016 but it is still there for backwards compatibility. 

I do hope I gave you some insight into what you can expect to miss (or not miss like FIM) from SharePoint 2016.  If you want to know more about how SharePoint 2016 might impact you or help you start planning now for a future move to SharePoint 2016, contact us!