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Microsoft reconfirms it will deliver an on-premises SharePoint 2016 release

Microsoft will roll out SharePoint Server 2016, an on-premises version of its SharePoint Server, in the second half of calendar 2015, officials reconfirm.

Yes, you doubting Thomases and Thomasinas out there: SharePoint Server will live to see another release.

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Microsoft execs reconfirmed officially via a blog post on February 2 that there will be another version of its on-premises SharePoint Server.

I have been hearing from some concerned SharePoint users who said they feared Microsoft might have decided against delivering more on-prem versions of SharePoint as a way to push/"encourage" more users to go with the Microsoft-hosted SharePoint Online service. That's not the case, though Microsoft officials are emphasizing they are supporting the on-prem version with the focus being on customers running SharePoint in hybrid on-prem/cloud configurations.

The coming version of SharePoint Server, which Microsoft has christened SharePoint Server 2016, is due to be released in the second half of this year -- which is when the next version of Office client (Office 2016) is due out.

In fall 2014, Microsoft officials said second half of 2015 was the delivery target for the next versions of SharePoint and Exchange, and the first half of 2015 was the target for Skype for Business.

SharePoint is Microsoft's Swiss Army Knife of servers. It includes collaboration, search, social-networking, content management and business intelligence components.

As it has been doing for the past several years, Microsoft plans to take features that it developed and deployed first in the cloud version of SharePoint, SharePoint Online, and bring them to the on-premises version of the product.

As today's SharePoint futures blog post notes, Microsoft has introduced during the past year a number of Office 365 features that are applicable to SharePoint in various ways, including the company's new Delve search/presentation application; its new Office 365 Video Portal; and new Yammer capabilities. While not all of the new capabilities will be rolled into SharePoint Server 2016, as officials previously acknowledged when discussing Delve and Office Graph, some of them will.

Microsoft's post today notes that the company is continuing to work on adding new features to Office 365 which ultimately may trickle down to SharePoint on-premises users, such as new Knowledge Management and People Management portals. The work that the joint OneDrive/SharePoint team is doing around syncing Microsoft's various OneDrive storage engines and file-management functionality will also be a big focus for Office 365 in the coming year.

Microsoft officials are committing to share more details about the next versions of the SharePoint, Exchange and Skype for Business (Lync) Server products at the company's upcoming Ignite conference the first week of May. From the partial session list for that show that Microsoft has published so far, it looks like Lync for Business and some of the coming Office 365 cloud features will get a lot of coverage at that event.

In addition to a session on SharePoint road map and futures, here are a couple others of interest from the still-incomplete Ignite session list:

Overview and Implementing Hybrid Search with the New Hybrid Search Crawl Appliance:A hybrid SharePoint environment is composed of an on-premises deployment of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 and a SharePoint Online tenant in Microsoft Office 365. A hybrid Search approach enables end users to get and view search results across all environments. In this session, learn about considerations when configuring hybrid search, best practices, and deployment. It also highlights the new Hybrid Search Crawl Appliance, now enabling a unified index approach.

The New Knowledge Management Portal in Office 365: Come hear about how Office 365 will support the Knowledge Management with a ready-to-go solution. We're excited to share this coming NextGen Portal to you for the first time. Join in person, join the discussion and provide your feedback to the team that is building it. We've got a lot of great things to share and demo.

In other Office-related news, Microsoft is making a new road map Web site available for its cloud and server customers that is quite similar to the one it released for Office last year. The Cloud Platform road map will cover features in development, preview and that have been cancelled in cloud services like Azure, Intune, Power BI, and Visual Studio Online; server products, such as Windows Server, System Center, SQL Server and Visual Studio; and converged system appliance offerings such as Cloud Platform System, Analytics Platform System and StorSimple.