In an office, one of the most common barriers to sharing information is figuring out where to put it. If you store documents on your own hard drive, you have to figure out how to give other people secure access. On a network server, you have to deal with filenames, permissions, and the logistics of figuring out how to get people working cooperatively.
Several years ago, Microsoft introduced SharePoint Team Services and SharePoint Portal Server—two versions of a Web-based server package designed to make it easy for members of a workgroup to communicate, collaborate, and share information with one another, preferably while using Office XR As befits a Microsoft "version 1.0" product, the two members of the SharePoint family were loaded with promise but also plagued by design limitations and some usability snafus.
With the release of Office 2003, Microsoft has updated its SharePoint servers as well. The two products are considerably more usable and useful than their predecessors, and they integrate tightly with Office 2003.
SharePoint services expand the capabilities of a Web server to allow members of a team to store documents, carry on discussions in a threaded bulletin-board format, create lists, and share tasks, contacts, and calendars. The server administrator defines permissions for team members, giving some full administrative rights over the team Web sites and allowing others rights to upload files, change documents, or create new special-purpose sites.
SharePoint sites come in two varieties: