What’s New and What’s Next for SharePoint Server?

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SharePoint Online is Microsoft’s premier SharePoint experience due to the rich integration that is possible with cloud services and the ability to innovate with a cloud-focused engineering model. Last year Microsoft showed their commitment to on-premises customers with the release of SharePoint Server Subscription Edition and now they’re sharing new investments being made in the SharePoint Server Subscription Edition, as well as other updates to the SharePoint Server ecosystem.

SharePoint Server Subscription Edition

On July 21st, 2021 Microsoft announced their vision, strategy, timeline, and investment areas for SharePoint Server Subscription Edition, the next generation of the SharePoint on-premises family.

SharePoint Server Subscription Edition brings a more agile approach to how new feature experiences are introduced. Instead of waiting for the next major version of SharePoint Server to be released, new feature experiences will now be introduced to SharePoint Server Subscription Edition on a regular basis via updates. This change means you will have access to these new feature experiences as soon as they are ready and will have control over how they are made available in your environment.

Introducing feature updates

Microsoft recognise the need for predictability when new features are introduced. To ensure they’re meeting those needs, Microsoft will bundle new feature experiences for SharePoint Server Subscription Edition together in feature updates so they can be introduced on a predictable schedule. Once a new feature update is released, it will be included in all public updates going forward.

Feature release preferences

In addition to the desire for predictability of new feature releases, Microsoft also understand the desire to manage the introduction of those new features into your environments. Customers may need time to train their users and support staff on any new functionality, perform compatibility testing of those new feature experiences and develop new business processes to take full advantage of the new feature experiences.

To meet this need, new feature experiences introduced in feature updates will be grouped into feature release rings. There will be two feature release rings: Standard release and Early release. As part of this work, customers will be able to choose which release ring is most appropriate for their organisation.  Most new feature experiences will first be introduced to the Early release ring, although due to technical limitations, some new feature experiences may be introduced directly to the Standard release ring. Once a new feature experience is ready for all customers to use by default, it will be moved to the Standard release ring.

Feature Updates in SharePoint Server Subscription Edition

  • Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI)

The cybersecurity landscape has fundamentally changed, as evidenced by large-scale, complex attacks, and signals that human-operated ransomware are on the rise. More than ever, it is critical to keep your on-premises infrastructure secure and up to date, including SharePoint servers.

To help customers secure their environments and respond to associated threats from the attacks, Microsoft are introducing integration between SharePoint Server and the Windows Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI). AMSI is a versatile standard that allows applications and services to integrate with any antimalware product present on a machine and examine incoming web requests to detect and block potentially malicious requests.

  • Modern Lists and DocLibs

Based on customer feedback, Microsoft are making several improvements to the modern document library and list experience. This is just a start – as they will continue to improve the list and document library experiences over time to meet the needs of  customers.

  • “Copy” and “Move” enhancements

You will be able to move a document to another document library in the same site or copy a document to another document library in another site, site collection, or web application.

  • Column formatting enhancements

Microsoft are improving column formatting functionality by adding support for Excel-style expressions. You can use the same expressions from SharePoint Online to create powerful visualisations that instantly communicate the state of the data in your on-premises lists and document libraries.

  • Bulk editing

To improve discovery of the bulk editing experience in lists and libraries, this update introduces an Edit button on the modern list toolbar when multiple list items are selected.

  • Button web part

When you add a modern page to a site, you add and customize web parts, which are the building blocks of your page. The Button web part lets you easily add a button to your page with your own label and link. You can create an actionable button inside modern pages by adding it through the toolbox.

  • Choose the default site language in the modern self-service site creation pane

Previously, when creating a new site via the SharePoint start page, users could not select the default language of the site. The newly created site would use the default language of the web application. Starting in SharePoint Server Subscription Edition Version 22H2, a language selection control has been added to the modern site creation page. Users can now create new sites with a specific language by selecting the desired language with that control.

  • New SharePoint RESTful ListData.svc implementation

ListData.svc has been rebuilt so that it no longer depends on the legacy WCF Data Services components while keeping compatibility with the functionality of the prior design. When your farm is in the Early release ring, the new design is activated. You can go back to the original architecture if the ListData.svc web service shows unexpected behavior by switching the farm back to the Standard release ring.

The features above are the beginning of how Microsoft will continue to deliver new value to SharePoint Server Subscription Edition through their updated release model, designed to bring new capabilities every six months through these changes.

Introducing SharePoint Workflow Manager

In addition to new capabilities and experiences in SharePoint Server Subscription Edition, Microsoft are also bringing updates to earlier versions of SharePoint as well – to include an upcoming change with Microsoft Workflow Manager. As a reminder, SharePoint 2010 workflows will only be supported on SharePoint Server Subscription Edition through July 14, 2026, and Microsoft recommended alternatives are SharePoint 2013 workflows or Power Automate (as mentioned in the guidance here). You may be aware that Microsoft is preparing to end support for the Web Platform Installer by the end of 2022, which is the primary tool you would use to install Service Bus and the Microsoft Workflow Manager for use with SharePoint 2013 workflows.

To ensure you can continue to use SharePoint 2013 workflows with your SharePoint Server environments, Microsoft will soon be releasing a new SharePoint Workflow Manager application to replace Service Bus and Microsoft Workflow Manager. This new workflow application is only designed for SharePoint Server scenarios and it’s recommended that you switch to this for new and existing Workflow Manager installations. The new SharePoint Workflow Manager application will be released by the end of this year.

Staying up to date with SharePoint end of support

To ensure you are up to date on end of support timelines for earlier versions of SharePoint, including 2013, 2016, and 2019, Microsoft are introducing a new notification experience to these products. These versions of SharePoint will now display notifications in both the Central Administration and SharePoint Management Shell experiences when the affected product is approaching its end of support date. These notifications will help direct SharePoint farm administrators to learn about recommended migration and upgrade options to ensure uninterrupted support.

As a reminder, SharePoint Server 2013 support ends of April 11, 2023. Learn more about how to prepare for end of support here.

To read the full Microsoft article, click here.

For more information about these new features, and to see how you might be affected, book a call with our experts now.