Microsoft decouples SharePoint Services from Windows Server 2008

Microsoft decouples SharePoint Services from Windows Server 2008

Summary: The Windows Server team has decided to decouple its Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) collaboration/document workflow subsystem from Windows Server 2008 and make it available (again) as a separate, free download.


The Windows Server team has decided to decouple its Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) collaboration/document workflow subsystem from Windows Server 2008.

Microsoft decouples SharePoint Services from Windows Server 2008In its acknowledgement of the move, Julius Sinkevicius, Windows Server Senior Product Manager, announced the decision via the Windows Server blog on October 29. Sinkevicius was somewhat vague about the reasons why the server team decided to make WSS 3.0 available as a free download, rather than make WSS 3.0 available as part of the final version of Windows Server 2008, which is slated to be released to manufacturing in the first quarter of 2008. Sinkevicius blogged:

"This is how Windows SharePoint Services was available to Windows Server 2003 customers (pre-R2). With the beta and RC0 versions of Windows Server 2008, we offered it in the Windows Server 2008 software. Starting with RC1 and going forward, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 will have to be downloaded separately.

"Basically, we made this decision to allow customers to most conveniently obtain the technology while allowing Microsoft to have flexibility in the Windows SharePoint Services development process."

I asked for more specifics on what led to the decision. Was it a desire to keep Windows Server smaller? To control complexity?

A spokeswoman reiterated that it's mostly about the WSS team wanting more "flexibility with the development cycle," in terms of aligning and investing in service packs, new releases and features and "bringing innovation to customers and to other products and applications built on WSS."

Are there some new WSS-based products coming we don't know about? What's your take on why Microsoft decoupled WSS from Windows Server? Do you care that it's a downloadable add-on again?

Topics: Servers, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Golly, I think it should be obvious:

    If it is a part of Windows Server, then it only makes that product's inflated price even MORE inflated when they decide to start charging for it!

    Separating it out, and giving it away for FREE at first, gets your customers liking it so that when all of a sudden there's a price on it they're more likely to say "OK" to buying it.

    It's Stevey Ballmer as the corner drug dealer: "We give you a leetle taste, yes? And you like it SO much you come back and pay BIG bucks to put it in your regular diet menu!"
    • hmm, interesting theory...

      NOT. Idiot dude. Go away.
    • I see someone has been visiting his corner drug dealer

      And it has nothing to do with scaling down the install, or as a means to help steer clear of future anti-trust (bundling) complaints?
    • Golly, you are ill-informed.

      Microsoft SharePoint Services are highly like to stay free, becuase it already has a commercial product for a big brother (Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server).
      • I see, so you don't see a problem ...

        ... with MS recognizing that a free product probably undermines sales of its commercial, paid for, product?

        You may be too young, but I remember a Microsoft product that started out pretty much free: Office. I remember getting a free copy of MS Office 95 with all of the Windows 95 disks I got. As a matter of fact, I remember a discussion with a Microsoft representative who said they would probably quit charging for Office anyway because they figured future OSes would include text editing, spreadsheet manipulation and database functions right in the OS!

        I'm gonna ignore the two folks ahead of you: they obviously sell MS products since they attacked ME and not the IDEAS I presented.
        • Don't agree

          As NickH pointed out, there are two products. The core is free but the add-on (OH! you want wheels with that car...) is not. They DO want to get you hooked and then upsell. Good marketing practice - like ZoneAlarm of AVG. By separating it from the OS they avoid giving the monopoly bigots another nail. And they have the flexibility to respond to maret demands. Of course the people who hate anything MS will still complain that the core services shouldn't be free.
          • "Monopoly bigots?" So, it's really just fine, ...

            ... in YOUR view, for the government to just go ahead and allow a company to stifle competition and ruthlessly take advantage of consumers as a result of their market domination? That's just "good marketing practice?"

            Okay, no gloves required then, all bets are off, everything's fair, I can just do everything in my power to avoid paying MS for their products as long as I can get away with it and Redmond can just pound sand? Okey, dokey.
        • No, I don't really see a problem.

          Like I said, the commercial upgrade is already there. Microsoft would not achieve anything positive for themselves by suddenly requiring payment for WSS.

          My understanding is that WOSS is a very successful product in its own right anyway. I know a lot of organisations that use it.
          • Oh, yes, WOSS is a very successful product ...

            ... and MS would NEVER even THINK of taking advantage of the success of that product to make it even MORE successful by eliminating the only FREE competing Windows product.

            <rolling my eyes so far in the back of my head that only the whites show>

            (It IS Halloween, after all, eh?)
          • Except that

            WSS and WOSS are not competitors. WOSS has a huge amount of funcitonality above and beyond WSS.

            That's like saying they'll start charging for WordPad to maximise their profit on Word.

            Have you ever used either of these products?
          • Sure have, NickH.

            Have used both, and you are right about the functionality of WOSS vis-a-vis WSS. However, you are wrong if you say WSS and WOSS do not compete in the same space, because when you look at the products the PRIMARY part of BOTH is WEB COLLABORATION:


            To maximize profits, Microsoft splits out Word from Office and sells it separately all the time:

            Don't you think if they thought they could squeeze a few more shekels out of you and me they would try it with WordPad by splitting it off of Windows? Why do you think WordPad has such a limited word processing feature set? Don't you think that's on purpose, that if the uptake of Word were slowed by something like a REALLY FULL featured text editor which comes standard in Windows we would CERTAINLY see it disappear in the next version?
          • Reply to above.

            I'm not arguing with the premise that Microsoft *could* start charging for it. I'm not arguing with the premise that Microsoft has (to say the least) a track record of following their own self-interest.

            What I am saying is, its not in Microsoft's interest to start charging for WSS.

            Not only would it annoy a lot of people if they did this, it also acts as the free "taster" for WOSS, and finally, in the Server OS space, they dont have a monopoly and have to complete there, and having this feature available for their product certainly helps.

            What you are saying is possible, but in my opinion, improbable.
        • Duh

          I'm thinking they attacked you because your ideas were stupid. If the only thing people know about you is that you have stupid ideas, they just assume you're stupid too.

          Saying that Office 95 was "pretty much free" is not only false but it completely has nothing to do with your arguement. It was never free. There was standard edition and professional edition which was the same thing plus Access. If you were getting it "free", it was packaged in as part of the price of something else you were buying.

          WSS is free. MOSS is not free. Like someone else said, suddenly charging for WSS would be like charging for WordPad.
  • Conspiracy Theory Mary Jo?

    Does everything have to be a conspiracy theory?

    I think you should put a new head shot on your column with a Tin Hat on your head when your "spidy senses" are tingling.

    Would be kind of funny actually :)
    • What did I miss?

      Why don't you point out the words/phrases/sentences that you consider to be "Mary Jo's conspiracy theory". Cuz I certainly don't see them.
  • Still under the eye of the US courts...

    and a 2 year extension has already been requested. They didn't include it for one simple reason...the felt the courts would slap them down for it. You can give it away, you just can't bundle it.
    • Interesting...

      ... since it has been bundled in Windows server or Office since 2001. And it has always been free, contrary to some who like to take Microsoft to task for every little thing.
      Confused by religion
    • Probably not

      The court oversight of Microsoft has been extended to January 31, 2008. I expect that the oversight will end permanently at that time.
  • the obvious reasons are....

    is that Windows Server 2008 is probably slipping on its delivery-date (Microsoft being late to release an operating-system, sueley not?!?!?!!) and the decision has been made that they need to get the Sharepoint Services bit out-of-the-door asap to try and retain market-share in the increasingly competative collaboration-market.

    OR they are cynically using people who download the free add-on as guinea-pig beta-testers to debug it prior to Windows Server 2008 (or 2009?) being released.

    OR both of the above.
    • OR

      Maybe is just what they said it is. They want to decouple to release cycle for WSS from Windows Server, so that both teams have more freedom.

      WSS was never installed by default anyway.

      People have been clamouring for a thinned down Windows Server. Now that Microsoft takes a step in that direction, every reason but the simplest one is being aired.