Is content management important to Microsoft?


Microsoft logoMicrosoft used to have a product called Content Management Server 2002; the sole purpose of this was to be a content management system. This was followed by the popular SharePoint 2007, in which "Content Management" was reduced to only one of six pillars. With SharePoint 2010, the packaging has been changed once again and the emphasis on CMS additionally reduced to simply "Content", which is a pillar on its own. Is it wrong to interpret this as a sign that Microsoft is attaching even less importance to content management?

There are several additional indicators of this in the marketplace:

  • MCMS 2002 and SharePoint 2007 shared numerous weaknesses when used for public websites, notably around globalization, accessibility and standards support. In fact, CMS 2002 was far better than SharePoint 2007 concerning all of these areas. It was also superior when it came to building websites that worked in multiple browsers. It is too early to tell whether any of these will be improved or fixed for SharePoint 2010, but according to Microsoft they have been working on it.
  • As we detailed in Best Practices for Using SharePoint for Public Websites, many organisations did not carefully consider whether SharePoint 2007 was the best match for their requirements and many paid a significant price for this. Nobody enjoys having unhappy customers and Microsoft has collected quite a few.
  • Competing .NET-based CMS vendors, eg. Ektron, EPiServer, Sitecore and Umbraco have had good times as many decided to keep SharePoint behind the firewall and use something more appropriate for their public website.
  • CMS 2002 was a product in its own right and provided a full content management solution. SharePoint 2007 was the replacement which was sold and named as being a small part of the mighty Office package, even though public websites required additional licensing. The Office-bundling and joint marketing definitely helped drive SharePoint adoption. SharePoint 2007 also came with improved integration with Microsoft Word which showed some continued commitment to content management. With SharePoint 2010, Microsoft has not only changed "Content Management" to "Content" they have also come up with new terms for almost everything. Moreover, when SharePoint 2010 is released, it will be without the Office name. When examining the new Microsoft terminology, you won't find many words from the Content Management Bible.
  • Upgrading from CMS 2002 to SharePoint 2007 was a nightmare and according to experts upgrading to SharePoint 2010 will be even harder. At this time, very few details have actually been released about the actual upgrade process, but it seems like this upgrade will be more about governance than technology.
  • The product documentation for SharePoint 2007 is quite weak with regards to content management compared to the other 5 pillars.

Perhaps Oxite, Microsoft's open source Web CMS, which was originally released back in 2008, is the future of content management at Microsoft? A recent blog by Microsoft Software Design Engineer Erik Porter on Planning for the Next Oxite Release reveals some interesting details. I asked Porter for additional details and he said Oxite did not have any funding yet, but the side-project was gaining momentum, both inside and outside Microsoft.

Content management may not be as interesting and business-critical as other areas, such as business intelligence, but to me it seems as if Microsoft is communicating clearly that content management is not a high priority, at least not in SharePoint. What's your take?

Thanks to Mauro Cardarelli and Shawn Shell for constructive input!


Janus Boye
CEO and Group moderator

As founder and managing director at J. Boye, Janus has grown the business from an office at home in 2003 to an international operation today with members in Europe and North America.

Janus is a frequent speaker at industry events and chairs the renowned J. Boye Conferences held since 2005 in Denmark and since 2009 in Philadelphia, US. Among the organisations that have recently called upon Janus' expertise are  local government agencies, the UN in New York and companies such as Brother, Carlsberg and Red Bull.

3 Responses to “Is content management important to Microsoft?”

  1. Looking at the Oxite roadmaps (blogposts) and AFAIK it’s still being focused as a blogging platform thus more as a .NET based WordPress alternative than a “full” CMS (a good thing IMHO).

    Full disclosure: I’m the founder of the UMBRACO CMS project – a .NET based Web CMS which in very rare occasions could be seen as competing with Oxite (as we’re not a blogging platform I have a bit of a hard time understanding that ;-))

  2. [...] adoption, SharePoint is often chosen for the wrong reasons. Also, as mentioned on this blog, content management does not seem important to Microsoft. For additional details, you can consult our research on Best Practices for Using SharePoint for [...]

  3. Jon Haugen says:

    Janus – it takes investment and commitment to get to where we are with the MOSS 2007 platform, also on the Content Management area. Another analyst organixation – Gartner – regards Microsoft with a bit more credit than you do in your analysis.

    We are the top challenger, with strong ability to execute in the WCM MQ:

    And we’ve been around in the leaders quadrant in the MQ for ECM for a while:

    To me, working with content – search is also important and Microsoft is regarded THE leader in Gartners MQ for Information Access Technology:

    All these three reports shows Microsoft commitment to the overall vision in working with all sorts of content, and that Content Management, including WCM is and will continue to be important to Microsoft. I also think it’s important to remember where Microsoft comes from – and not forget Office in all this. I think that Microsoft has a slightly different approach to areas such as ECM, WCM, BI – just because we also provide a rich and reach user experience, that no other vendor can provide – yet.

    I’m really looking forward to show you, and our customers the new ECM/WCM features of SharePoint :-) It’s now 2 months until the SharePoint conference opens – where all our new stuff will be revealed.

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