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SharePoint Conference 2012: The Time Machine Question

by Craig Roth  |  November 14, 2012  |  Comments Off on SharePoint Conference 2012: The Time Machine Question

Someone did it: they asked the Time Machine question during Q&A.  I love it!  The question is an unanswerable one for vendors and goes something like this: “You’re telling us the new version of your software is great because it fixes/replaces/revamps features x,y, and z that were sub-standard in the last version.  So when the next version comes out in a few years, what will you tell us is sub-standard in this version?”

It was asked in the SharePoint 2013 migration session, but it built on information from other sessions before it.  We’re now being told SharePoint 2010 has:

  • A cluttered UI (now cleaned up to look more like Win8)
  • Difficult to change site styles (now easily accessible by end users)
  • Less than best-of-breed activity streams (choose Yammer’s over SharePoint’s)
  • A high appetite for disk space (fixed by now storing deltas instead of a full version of the file for each change)
  • Sluggish response (fixed by sending partial screen updates instead of the 1.1 MB average in SP2010)
  • Unreliable profile sync difficulties (now it’s in the product in the user profile service instead of a less dependable toolkit)
  • Poorly architected web analytics (now fixed with a brand new engine)
  • Offline file sync in SharePoint Workspace that’ was about to get axed (for SkyDrive Pro)

This is just a tongue-in-cheek way to look at all the improvements in SharePoint 2013, which are quite impressive.  I asked a similar question myself when researching migration to SharePoint 2010.  I’ve also heard it asked about SharePoint customizations (“what will you tell us next time we shouldn’t have customized today?”). 

Of course it can’t be answered.  It’s really a statement, not a question.  It says we get that progress happens incrementally and no software is ever “done”, but if there were problematic features it would have been nice to know that at the time.  It’s a fine line between improvements that are leaps forward and changes made to get something to the level we were told (or left to assume) it was at last time.  As features are mentioned in presentations it’s the difference between “awesome!” applause (like great performance running from a cloud instance in Amsterdam) and “finally” applause (like pointing out you don’t have to use SharePoint Designer anymore). 

Of course it’s unfair to take every improvement and turn it around to ask why it wasn’t done earlier.  It’s not specific to SharePoint or Microsoft or IT.  Not many people ask car manufacturers “If your engineers can get 210 hp out of the engine with the same gas mileage, why didn’t you do that in last year’s 180 hp model?”  But when it’s raised the statement shows that users think some of the “improvements” in the new version are of the “getting it up to the already assumed level of functionality” variety.  And maybe just a bit of wishful thinking that a Time Machine could be invented that goes into the future, finds the slide deck from the vendor’s next version launch, and downloads it to your computer today.  Although maybe getting the version after that would be even better.  If it wasn’t an IT-specific time machine maybe it could pull down some future stock quotes and Super Bowl winners too.  But that feature will probably show up in the next version of the Time Machine…

Category: fun  microsoft-sharepoint  

Craig Roth
Research VP, Tech and Service Providers
7 years at Gartner
28 years IT industry

Craig Roth is a Research Vice President focused on cloud office suites, collaboration tools, content management, and how they are being impacted by digital workplace and digital business trends...Read Full Bio

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