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Microsoft

Microsoft May Be Inflating SharePoint Stats 225

Posted by kdawson
from the pay-no-attention-to-the-man dept.
ericatcw writes "Taking a page out of McDonalds 'billions and billions served,' Microsoft says it reaps $1.3 billion a year from more than 100 million users of its SharePoint collab app. But some suggest that the figures are consciously inflated by Microsoft sales tactics in order to boost the appearance of momentum for the platform, reports Computerworld. A recent survey suggests that less than a fourth of users licensed for SharePoint actually use it. SharePoint particularly lags as a platform for Web sites, according to the same survey, a situation Microsoft hopes to fix with the upcoming SharePoint 2010."
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Microsoft May Be Inflating SharePoint Stats

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  • by Simulant (528590) on Monday October 19, 2009 @08:14PM (#29802263) Journal

    I work for a small computer support firm and we have around 400 SBS 2003 and 2008 customers. All of them have Sharepoint installed. None of them know it exists. Exactly one of them uses it for anything (web access to shared calendar).

    Hell, I can't even figure out what it's good for.

  • by dan_barrett (259964) on Monday October 19, 2009 @08:32PM (#29802433)

    I administer the free version of Sharepoint at work. (sharepoint 3.0)

    It's yet another tool from Microsoft where -

    All the data is stored in one large impenetrable database blob - most content is stored in two dimensional "lists", which somewhat limits what you can do in terms of building online forms etc. ALL the list data is stored in the one table, which makes it non-intuitive to make that data visible outside of sharepoint.
    It's easy for end users to generate lists, calendars, annoucement pages, document stores, surveys etc etc to their hearts content, so you end up with a big sprawling mess if it's poorly administered
    it's easy to add canned 'web parts" but impossble to alter the functionality of those parts. eg, try to prevent staff from seeing survey results, for example. (yes, it's possible but it's not exactly intuitive, and extremely hard without the assitance of Sharepoint designer, which was not free until recently)
    Microsoft keep changing the search engine strategy for the product; Search has mysteriously failed on our implementation with few error messages to provide clues.
    It doesn't really work properly unless you integrate it with Active directory, Microsoft Office, Infopath, and ideally MS Exchange. Vendor lockin for the win!

    So why are we using it? Our staff love it, as it's easy for the end user to figure out; but it's an absolute pig to administer.

    In terms of usage stats, I note it comes with every copy of Windows small business server. Perhaps they're including that in the usage stats?

  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Monday October 19, 2009 @08:37PM (#29802505) Journal

    I'm working on a project right now for setting up an internal document management system. Ran up a blind alley of learning Drupal (that took a while!) only to discover that it wasn't suitable. Evaluated a few more (including SharePoint) and ended up going with the free and open-source TikiWiki instead. To quote McDonald's, I'm loving it!

  • by Path3 (1338747) on Monday October 19, 2009 @08:40PM (#29802533)

    Back in 2006 both Nintendo and Sony stated in public that they were switching to reporting actual sales to customer numbers. Googling only finds references to the original statements by Nintendo and Sony and not the original statements.

    However, just a month or so ago Sony once again reiterated that they only report actual sales:

    http://news.spong.com/article/19131/SCEE-Clarifies-PS3-Install-Base-Maths [spong.com]

    "We calculate our install base by 'sell through' and have done for the last four years I believe", we asked for a little additional clarification...

    "We classify 'sell through' as the number of units consumers have actually purchased from retail. 'Sell in' is the number of units we've sold to retail."

    Didn't check for a recent statement by Nintendo, but I assume they still report actual sales.

    Microsoft remains the only one who still tries to pass off their shipments of stock to retailers as actual sales to customers. Basically pads the worldwide installed base of the Xbox 360 by a couple million units.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2009 @08:49PM (#29802611)

    Unless you need the most simplistic, minimal workflow, 90s table based GUI, and wanna avoid developers like a plague..

    I am NOT alone, read this
    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/256407/what-are-your-biggest-complaints-about-sharepoint

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2009 @08:54PM (#29802653)

    Sharepoint replaced a wiki we had at work. We had a wiki that people liked that we constantly improved.

    The edict was to move all the documents into word format and upload them into sharepoint.

    Now no one ever looks at those documents.

    So we didn't have a problem which was solved by moving to a solution that no one wanted and no one uses.

  • PROBABLY NOT LYING (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 19, 2009 @08:59PM (#29802691)

    The US and many other governments use Sharepoint almost exclusively for intranet sites. I know the DOD is big on Sharepoint and so are many other agencies and departments. That would amount to a big part of what you think doesn't exist. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean they aren't selling it. Stop being so biased Slashdot.

  • Re:Screw Sharepoint (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday October 19, 2009 @09:44PM (#29803031) Journal
    Just wait until you make a mistake, and it puts your user object in the gulag OU...

    In my(admittedly somewhat limited) experience with it, sharepoint seemed like a mess. Pretty much the slipshod bastard child of a wiki full of office documents and a half-assed collaboration/versioning mechanism. It probably feels like the second coming of Raptor Jesus if your collaboration mechanism has traditionally been either "just map to 'new project docs' on 'data2' and remember to number your new version" or "let me forward you the email chain and attachments"; but it was not a pleasant change after using real tools.
  • by jvolk (229717) on Monday October 19, 2009 @10:06PM (#29803207)

    I have worked fairly extensively with Sharepoint and used it as a platform for developing several different kinds of applications. That being said...

    You hit the mark on most of your points
    * Yes, the database is impenetrable (and it supposed to be - you aren't supposed to muck with it) - keep in mind this isn't an open source product

    * Lots of the features are too dumb for programmers/power users but easy for regular users to muck up - this is a governance issue and all "portals" can suffer from this

    * Canned web parts are moderately powerful but do have limits. Same thing applies to other portal products, such as Websphere Portal, Tibco, etc. As a developer, you can always extend these parts just as you would in any other platform...but of course, it isn't something Sally from accounting can do.

    * Mysterious errors usually come back to poor administration or poor governance - you would have the same thing if you didn't know how to properly administer Apache, Tomcat, or any other number of complex applications or platforms.

    * Yep, vendor lockin sucks and it sucks about MS. But if you are an MS shop, it works pretty damn well. If you aren't, you probably weren't considering Sharepoint anyway, were you?

    So basically, yes, if you don't take the time to learn and adequately use, administer, and deploy, it isn't going to be easy to work with. Don't get me wrong, it has its problems and I'm not saying it is easy but I can't say it is any more difficult than any other application in its class.

  • I know that Law Firms had a conference to use Sharepoint for Legal Practice Management Software. I wrote an original ASP based Docket Calendar, and Law Firms want to move their Docket Calendars to Sharepoint. I can tell you that when you have a law firm and you want reliability, Microsoft isn't always the best choice. Some law firms still use Wordperfect and other non-MS software because they have found MS software to be low quality in performance and reliability. But the majority of big law firms are hooked on Microsoft for everything as Microsoft bundles software into neat packages for them and provides paid support for everything. The big law firms think that putting everything on Microsoft is a safe bet, but the law firm I worked at went millions of dollars over budget because of support calls, replacing hardware, replacing software, and hiring consultants when Microsoft could not give any answers or solutions to our problems. Back then it was Windows 2000, Office 2000, and Visual BASIC 6.0, and ASP 3.0, but the move to Dotnet only made matters worse. Finally Microsoft is working out the bugs in Dotnet, but in doing so they have created new ones. Sharepoint 3.0 was a nifty program until Microsoft filled it with bloated features that it needs Windows 2008 Server because it won't run on older Windows Servers forcing companies to pay for upgrades to Windows 2008 Server and new server hardware, just like the last time I used Windows Server and Microsoft software in a legal environment.

    Keep in mind these are "hidden costs" that do not count many wasted work hours trying to work around the MS bugs in programming, or trying to restore a crashed server or workstation. That expenses can reach record amounts as well as have downtime for the entire firm.

    There are only two known FOSS alternatives to Sharepoint [osalt.com] but Wiki sites are usually better and faster and in most cases free to use. I tried getting Wiki implemented in my former work places only to be laughed at. But a Wiki search is faster than a Sharepoint search, and a Wiki need not use Windows Server and can run on Linux, *BSD Unix, or Mac OSX or some other platform to save money.

  • by tftp (111690) on Monday October 19, 2009 @11:03PM (#29803617) Homepage

    you would LEARN what its good for, and make money SHOWING your clients what they can do with it.

    Unfortunately SP offers very little to the casual user. To that user, the only important difference from a SMB share is versions. If you don't care about them (and most people, in most businesses, don't [*]) then there SP has zero advantage to you personally.

    [*] Why hardly anyone uses versions? Because that's how humans work in real life, and because it is inconvenient (and outright dangerous) to copy versions of files onto laptops, take them on a trip, change them and then try to check in. Do you think your average PHB is going to do merging? Do you think he will be stopped by "File is read-only" warning? No, he'll go ahead and do his edits, and then *you* will be called to "put it back". Versions are a problem. I can agree that if PHBs were to be taught how to use version control systems from their first day in their training then it could be better. Still we have a problem that a laptop can't deal with versions like foo.txt;23 (long live RSX-11 and VMS!). So for everyone it is safer and easier to use file names for version control, just as they would do on paper.

    Outside of that little feature, SP does have a lot of other functions - which are typically beyond even understanding of a typical user. So it has calendars, tasks, announcements, personal web pages, personal links ... and who needs that? Outlook already has a calendar and tasks; personal web pages are ridiculous for 99.999% of users; so I do have one - and I haven't touched it in months. There is an announcement hanging on the server for, I think, couple of years, and nobody is caring. The UI is quite flexible, if you are into flexing UIs - but again most people couldn't care less.

    So the only area where SP is of any use is file management. And does it shine there? No. The mix of Web UI and Windows Explorer UI is horrible. Some functions work in one UI and don't in another. Tables have different formats all over the site and you can't do anything about it yourself (unless you are the admin.) On our SP you couldn't even see the file type (.txt, .pdf etc.) and the icon is a blank sheet of paper, a tiny one to boot. After some haggling the admin added the file type to some tables and not to other; I'm too tired of that mess to keep complaining.

    So what SP is good for? I really don't know. It doesn't seem to be much better than a file share; it's worse, actually, because hardly any app knows how to open http://foo/path/foo.pdf [foo] and that means you can't open files from the Explorer window, and if you don't do that then your files have to be opened through the browser or downloaded as a copy onto your local drive. As I said, a mess. It does have better logging, though, of who did what, so if that is seriously required then you at least can know who deleted some file (but you won't have the file unless you backed it up.) That's my opinion, I'm just a poor user of that wretched piece of software.

  • Re:Screw Sharepoint (Score:3, Informative)

    by Thaelon (250687) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:27AM (#29804109)

    In my experience it's worse than a flat shared network drive because no one who didn't put the document there can ever find it.

    We use it mostly because we got it free with our existing MS license agreement. Not a single person I've talked to likes it or can find anything on it.

    It's search capabilities are completely worthless. To the point that I once proposed installing google desktop on the sharepoint server as a workaround. I didn't realize that there were permissions setup within sharepoint that made this a security risk at the time, but still.

    All of the developers on my team use a local MediaWiki..wiki almost exclusively for anything we create. It's got built in version control, decent search results, and anyone can update it with any browswer. And sharepoint is crippled from Firefox, which is as good as you're going to get in Linux, which many of the developers use. For all the documents we get from other departments, we ask that they provide the document or direct links to them, because I'd rather play a state lottery than bet on finding what you were looking for by yourself in sharepoint.

  • by Zoidbot (1194453) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:10AM (#29805277)

    Actually no, it seems to be mainly Microsoft that does this. They have been overflating their Xbox stats for a very long time, and doing tricks like stuffing the chain and reporting shipped units. Obviously they also include all the RROD units in their 30m consoles, as Sony have 26m or so units, and there is no way they could be seen to have lost their 18month headstart....

    I'm sure there were laws in the US against this, however it's clear that Microsoft are above the law these days.

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:3, Informative)

    by slim (1652) <john AT hartnup DOT net> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @05:23AM (#29805327) Homepage

    So either there's nothing of importance in the documents or the workers aren't doing their job anymore.

    Or they've reverted to an ad-hoc system of keeping documents on their local filesystems, and emailing them to each other. It creates problems with versions, and "searching" becomes a social networking exercise (or an email to 'all') -- but if workers find it less painful than Sharepoint, that's what they'll do.

    In my workplace there's an official Sharepoint site, and dozens of guerilla wiki servers -- Twiki in some cases, abused Fitnesse servers in others.

  • Well no...that's what a Backup is for. SharePoint can back up, no problem, even with their hosted editions you can keep a backup. But if you don't use the backup features, you'll suffer the Sidekick's fate for certain...
  • by tedgyz (515156) * on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @08:30AM (#29806253) Homepage

    We have a corporate sharepoint site that is supposed to help us share documents and collaborate. In reality, it is a confusing maze of pages with way too much embedded functionality.

    In summary, I hate it!

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