Confused About SharePoint?! You’re Not Alone!

If you were to Google “SharePoint,” any number of responses would come up. The answers will range from jargon citing a browser based collaboration platform, a web-based intranet system, or an enterprise information portal to opinion pieces boasting SharePoint as a type of blogging wiki (AIIM, 2016) The actual truth is that SharePoint is not just one product or technical package that can be captured in a single phrase.

The simplest thing you can say about SharePoint is also the least informative and that is, ‘it was created by Microsoft’.  In actuality, the term “SharePoint” can refer to several different products offered by Microsoft as a means of helping businesses collaborate, run, work, and produce more efficiently. The products are not meant for any specific business or even industry as all of the features SharePoint products offer can be tailored to meet the needs of all businesses (Microsoft Support, 2016).

Though not a comprehensive overview, in technical terms SharePoint encompasses Windows SharePoint Services (WSS), now known as SharePoint Foundation, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS), and Microsoft Search Server (MSS) (AIIM, 2016). WSS or SharePoint Foundation offers basic content services. It requires installation and deployment on premises and is used to create sites of all different types in order to collaborate on webpages, documents, lists, email alerts, shared calendars, and data. SharePoint Foundation is no longer available separately as of the SharePoint 2016 release (Microsoft Support, 2016)

MOSS can be seen as an optional addition to SharePoint Foundation offering several extra features (AIIM, 2016). Using webparts, an integrated set of controls to create web sites that enable users to modify content, appearance, and behaviour of web pages directly in a browser, this server can present information to the user. This is used for collaboration, document management, records management, workflow, and personalization of things like blogs and wikis.

Finally, MSS is an enterprise search engine which provides advanced categorization and searching capabilities that can be integrated into MOSS (AIIM, 2016).

These three products can collectively be known as SharePoint, but that still isn’t all that SharePoint offers. There is also SharePoint Online and SharePoint Designer 2013, which each offers its own pros and cons for businesses.

Bottom Line: if you take anything away from this explanation, it should be that, while SharePoint has a lot to offer companies of practically any size, there is an optimal combination of SharePoint products for each individual company. A SharePoint expert can help companies design and develop the perfect combination of products and ensure that they work together seamlessly.  


AIIM (2016). “What is Microsoft SharePoint,” Association for Information and Image Management. Retrieved from July 5, 2016.

Microsoft Office Support (2016). “What is SharePoint,” Microsoft. Retrieved from July 5, 2016.

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