In a previous post I noted that SharePoint and Office 2010 are more integrated than ever before. However, this integrated experience is not extended to Windows. But this begs the question: how could Windows integrate better with SharePoint?
Windows 7’s federated search is a good example of how I would like to see any future SharePoint/Windows integration take shape. Today, people searching their Windows 7 desktop computer can quickly switch to searching a SharePoint 2010 site, without having to stop what they are doing, start a browser, and then issuing another search.
WebDAV Today, CMIS Tomorrow?
Windows Explorer is capable of navigating SharePoint-based folders and documents today using the WebDAV protocol. However, setting up WebDAV within Windows is not simple. In addition, SharePoint 2010 provides better APIs than WebDAV and richer navigational methods than a simple hierarchy of folders containing documents. Ideally, an updated Windows interface like this should be based on the recently approved Content Management Interoperability Standard (CMIS), support for which is in SharePoint 2010.
Compliance with CMIS mandates a content system provides a fairly minimal set of capabilities, primarily support for navigating folders and opening documents. However, the optional features in CMIS could provide the basis for a significantly richer exploration of repository-based content by using metadata. For example, instead of being limited to a simple folder hierarchy, imagine content being explored by type of file, by date, or by custom fields that are meaningful to the business such as sales account, plant code, or engineering release. Content wouldn’t just be stored in one directory but could be found via multiple paths using this metadata. For example, a design specification might be found by exploring multiple paths such as product segments, regions, or suppliers. Content management vendors have been demonstrating these opportunities in CMIS for months and there are even desktop products that can do this now (checkout OpenWorkdesk).
Baking CMIS capabilities into Windows could be quite disruptive to the content management market. It would position Windows as the de-facto leading CMIS client and provide Microsoft opportunities to tout SharePoint as a back-end content repository. From an IT Professional’s perspective this would enable easier browsing of documents, possibly across all of an enterprise’s content repositories. If Microsoft took a platform approach they could also provide a CMIS API that applications could use, enabling integration of CMIS-based content within desktop applications.
Isn’t it time that Microsoft moved beyond WebDAV and supported CMIS in Windows?