It’s hard to believe, but the first version of SharePoint was released 13 years ago and was called ‘SharePoint Portal Server 2001’. It provided a basic set of features, compared to what we see in SharePoint these days. The focus was very much document management, workflows and search.

Over the last 13 years, the name and brand of SharePoint has changed with every version. In this post we are going to look at the evolution of that brand, and explain the various twists and turns in Microsoft’s flagship enterprise collaboration tool.

2001 - In the beginning

‘SharePoint Portal Server 2001’ offered document management, basic workflows and a simple search function. It was really only meant for building basic Intranet portals. It integrated with Office XP, allowing features like dashboards to be built in Excel and published to SharePoint as a web part.

That same year Microsoft released a separate product, ‘SharePoint Team Services 2001’. The Note that the word ‘Portal’ is missing for a reason. ‘SharePoint Team Services 2001’ was built using FrontPage Extensions 2000 and was meant to help collaboration in projects and teams.

Although ‘Portal’ and ‘Team’ were two separate products, Microsoft recommended using them together. See here for a handy comparison of the two offerings. In the comparison piece, Microsoft refers to a good whitepaper called ‘Microsoft SharePoint Technologies: Unlocking the Power of Information Sharing’.  This paper is no longer available on the Microsoft website, but you can grab a copy here.

2003 - SharePoint matures

In 2003, a new version of SharePoint was released, again consisting of two components. However, this time the two were released as one product. 2003 also saw the start of the basic licensing model still in use today: a free license and a commercial license with added functionality. The two offerings were called

  • Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 (commercial license)
  • Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 (Also known as WSS, free license)

One important new feature was the introduction of MySites, a personal site for every user. This site could store personal data, documents, and it incorporated a dedicated user profile. This functionality, as we shall see, has grown in later versions, and is now being integrated with Yammer.

2007 - SharePoint hits the mass market

SharePoint really started to take off with its 2007 release; again two offerings were made available:

  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (Also known as MOSS, commercial license)
  • Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (free license)

The most important improvements in this version were:

  • Publishing: Microsoft Content Management Server 2002 was merged into SharePoint
  • Server API: Microsoft added a server API, providing developers with the ability to write managed C# code against the SharePoint object model and deploy them as farm solutions. It was much more successful than Microsoft expected, even though the lack of API documentation forced the community to write guidelines themselves based on trial and error.
  • Business Intelligence: This was a first step towards integration with reporting solutions like SAP, Microsoft BI and Excel.
  • Business Data Catalogue: External line of business systems could be integrated with SharePoint to expose their data.
  • SharePoint Groove 2007: For the first time users could take data, mainly documents and elements of their MySite, offline.

2010 - A new look and feel

SharePoint 2010 dropped the name “Windows SharePoint Services” and made both version names more consistent. The license model still referenced two versions:

  • SharePoint Foundation 2010 (the equivalent of the old WSS, free license)
  • SharePoint Server 2010 (commercial license)

Big improvements in this version included:

  • The Office 2007 Ribbon UI
  • FAST Search, a product for enhanced search, was acquired and was made available as a separate license
  • SharePoint Workspace became the successor to Groove, as the means to take files offline

2013 - The modern era

The SharePoint brand in 2013 is fairly consistent with the 2010 version; two 2013 offerings are available, as follows:

  • SharePoint Foundation 2013 (free license)
  • SharePoint Server 2010 (commercial license)

SharePoint 2013 is also available as an online product in Office 365, known as SharePoint Online. While SharePoint 2010 was available as a cloud product, 2013 is the first offering where SharePoint really became viable in this form. The evolution of the cloud product brands will be subject of another blog post.

SharePoint 2013 offers a lot of improvements over 2010, and also integrate previously separate products; as follows:

  • Yammer was acquired and integrated as the social component of SharePoint. MySites are now deprecated, though elements will live on as parts of the wider social side of SharePoint.
  • FAST Search was integrated with the main SharePoint search engine; it no longer requires an extra license.
  • SharePoint Workspace became Skydrive Pro, mirroring Microsoft’s consumer product. A legal dispute saw a hasty renaming to OneDrive for Business.


Ram Tagher
Product Manager