I had a chance yesterday to participate with folks in the discussion with Bill Baer about Microsoft SharePoint 2016. This article is a collection of questions and Bill’s answers.

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Question: You said in your “big” session that FIM will not be shipped with SP2016 and that Active Directory Import will be able to sync two ways. What about custom BCS Scenarios, if you have additional user Information (e.g. from SAP) to enrich user profiles – how would I go about that in this new cloudy world?

For SharePoint 2016 we’ve removed the integrated FIM implementation. We’ll support uni-directional sync via AD sync in-product in addition to external MIM for bi-directional sync scenarios. Effectively we’ve removed the embedded version of FIM and done work to more closely integrate with an external instance.

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Question: SP 2016 – Patching – 0 downtime was the word from Bill Baer [Microsoft] at MSIgnite – that means no more PSconfig to run afterwards and no App Recycle/IIS reset?

In SharePoint Server 2016 updates are orchestrated differently mitigating the offline upgraders as experienced in earlier versions of SharePoint, we’re moving to a B2B online upgrade model that alleviates the need for post-patch experiences.

We’ll share more details soon, at a high level patching remains thru MSPs (with significant reduction), but now with 0 downtime, removing dependencies between FE and BE components and now upgraders are all done online.

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Question: List Item threshold. What’s the new number for SharePoint 2016?

The List View Threshold was designed to mitigate lock escalation – I.e. lock escalation occurs when single Transact-SQL statement acquires at least 5,000 locks on a single nonpartitioned table or index – a row lock escalates to a table lock, blocking all subsequent requests – or otherwise converts many fine-grain locks into fewer coarse-grain locks. We’ve been working on some plans to help mitigate this issue that we’ll be sharing more details on in the next month or so, but we do recognize the limitation it presents and are actively working to address it.

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Question: Can we expect more connectors in SharePoint Search 2016? (like SAP, CRM Systems, etc..). Also I see more companies trying to make SharePoint Search as an “Enterprise Search” where we lag on existing such custom connectors to existing ERP Systems.

We’ll continue to invest in broader availability of endpoints to support search scenarios, particularly connectors, and deliver on the connectors we already ship. In addition we’re shipping some new APIs to support surfacing external sources in Delve (as demonstrated at \build) and have a number of partners in our search TAP program that are actively building connectors using some of our new search experiences and endpoints.

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Question: What would be story for SharePoint Add-ins and Provider hosted apps for SharePoint 2016? Do we have xNext which would be similar as app script parts pattern (more responsive), rather than iframe based app parts?

On the development side, we’ll continue to support FTC, invest more in hybrid apps via CAM, in addition to bringing much of the cloud experience to on-premises to draw parity between developing for the service and on-premises. Namely subscription apps, common consent, and Office 365 APIs as initial investment areas.

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Question: Any innovations on the WCM side in the SharePoint 2016? Sounds like there were some good innovations in 2013 but with public site decommissioned on SharePoint Online recently, are there any direction change towards WCM capabilities in vNext?

We do not have plans to deprecate WCM capabilities in SharePoint Server 2016 – we remain early in our development cycle so can’t quite yet comment on what specific investments we’ll make in this space, but as of now, we don’t have plans to deprecate what we’ve already delivered to date in SharePoint 2013.

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Question: SharePoint Standard vs Enterprise in 2016 still or just “SharePoint 2016”?

We’re not in a position at this time to discuss licensing and packaging, but as we near code complete in the next couple of months we’ll begin the work necessary to define any SKUs related to SharePoint Server 2016.

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Question: What I always wanted to see and never got to see: How does Office 365 look “under the hood”. We know it is just ordinary SP farms with lots of tenants on there.

Why not show us one little glimpse of one of those machines? Log into it via RDP – is that possible? Show us the “real” central administration not the O365 one, does it still exist? How many tenants are on a farm / server? You said in a session that you keep the load at about 40% CPU per WFE – show us on a server, let us drool at the internals. Is this a trade secret? Nobody could operate at your scale anyways.

How do you deploy patches throughout regions / datacenters? Show us some funky PowerShell. Let us clap for how smart you do stuff. How do you manage downtimes? Show us great dashboards with Visio diagrams turning servers red if they are down (at least that’s what all Visio guys always show at sessions).

That’s a great idea. I’ll circle back and let you know what we can do, but it seems doable. We did show, as an FYI, some of this in our hybrid pre-day at Microsoft Ignite and BRK2188 if you’d like to check out those videos.

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Question: With the MinRole changes can we expect architectural changes to any of the existing services? Search changes with each version, will there be a whole new set of cmdlets?

We’ll have updates to existing CmdLets to address architectural changes such as MinRole in addition to a some new CmdLets specific to SharePoint 2016. MinRole does change the Search topology to a certain extent, but also streamlines search deployment and administration. The core limitation of SpecialLoad is that it is excluded from compliance and reporting capabilities as an FYI.

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Question: Browser support. What are the browsers that will be supported for SharePoint 2016. Can we expect “unified experience” across all browsers?

We’re less focused on a specific browser, providing the manufacturer supports said browser as our recent investments have moved us away from proprietary scenarios such as ActiveX and replaced those with HTML5, etc.

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Question: Will there be a method to also use the Drive import feature for sending SharePoint Content databases from a 2013 instance (or 2010) to allow quicker migration to the Cloud? And to tie into that will you provide a Single server image that will be needed to test that the baseline functionality will be unaffected. Essentially giving a “pre-Cloud” test bed for companies with Masses of data 10TB+

To add, the cloud should be viewed as a migration whereas on-premises, an upgrade. The challenge with supporting “upgrade” from on-premises to cloud is all of the variables that can challenge a successful upgrade and the subsequent processes it would take to drive resolution. I.e. in a drive ship scenario we would need to ensure builds are aligned, etc. We would also not be in position to decide whether or not the upgrade was successful which would require the customer to drive. Migration mitigates those challenges as we’re just moving bits from A > B.

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Question: How will Microsoft service SP 2016 to align with Hybrid deployments? I thinking CU and PU

As we’ve taken SPO as our baseline for on-premises it creates a first step for more alignment to the service, in addition to bringing new topology and updating capabilities to on-premises to further that alignments – all of these investments influence and accrue to our hybrid investments, so we’re cognizant of solving and differentiation between the two environments.

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Question: Any plans to offer SharePoint PaaS instead of SaaS such that you would have more farm level access for custom solutions? I know right now it’s all multi-tenant so we can’t have access at a certain level to prevent affecting other environments. Seems like the only other cloud solution is IaaS where we still have to manage OS and SP patching and security. Would that create too much overhead on the MS teams to support stuff at the SP/OS level that we may break with farm level customization?

We don’t have any plans today for PaaS – for IaaS and even traditional on-premises scenarios we’re simplifying patch management with 0 downtime and deployment with early investments such as MinRole that will ease the management burden.

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Question: Paired with the SQL 2016 announcement, any implications on the table “stretching” feature for SharePoint 2016 (performance or storage benefits)?

New Table investments, Transparent Queryable Encryption and other SQL Server 2016 investments we have not validated and/or tested with SharePoint Server 2016. As we move closer to code complete we’ll begin to validate those scenarios for supportability, but rest assured we’re committed to support for SQL Server 2016.

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Question: Many of the new ignite announcements are not yet on the Roadmap. When should we expect to see the new features added? Is there an alternate roll up of feature and timelines announced in Ignite sessions?

The public roadmap is primarily focused on Office 365 futures as opposed to on-premises. We’ll share investments for on-premises through the Office blogs and events as we make those as primary disclosure vehicles. We’re early in the development cycle for SharePoint 2016, but expect to hear more in the upcoming months.

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Question: Something I wanted to find out more about but did not manage to do during Ignite (due to different reasons) was what the future looks like for SharePoint Social features if you cannot or do not want to use Yammer. Will the SharePoint Newsfeed, “follow” features etc. still be available in SharePoint online and SharePoint server? Or is there a plan to phase them out and replace with Yammer? Because I doubt there will be much investment in these existing features since Yammer is the way to go from Microsoft’s point of view?

SharePoint social capabilities as designed and delivered in SharePoint 2013 will be carried forward into SharePoint 2016 in addition to new integrated Yammer experiences thru hybrid to include Post to Yammer, etc. from SharePoint Document Libraries. Also, we’ll have new hybrid Team Sites and OneDrive for Business scenarios that allow Follow across cloud and on-premises.

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Question: Will you provide SharePoint Designer 2016? If not, will SharePoint Designer 2013 continue to work with SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online?

SharePoint Designer will not be shipped with SharePoint 2016; however, SharePoint Designer 2013 can be used with SharePoint 2016.

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Question: I am unhappy with the way SharePoint 2016 is represented right now. I understand the cloud path and I fully support it. However for fully OnPrem customers there is currently isn’t really anything that would help selling 2016 licenses. All the improvements seem to be on the hybrid / admin front. We not have Server roles and increased list view thresholds… how would I sell that to the Marketing Department / Finance who have the Money?

SharePoint 2013 was really great marketing wise. We now have Social, Enterprise Social. It was a great way to start a conversation with customers and a great new field to get into. Enterprise Social now is dead – yes we have Yammer, I’m talking OnPrem with no chance to move to the cloud (regulatory, tin foil head etc.).

Can you give us a feature / feature set which will really set SharePoint 2016 apart? THIS is why I want to buy it? “Hybrid search index” is not really that sellable.

To date we’ve only shared our initial investments which are targeted at infrastructure scenarios (the first area we focus on from a development perspective). Over the course of the next couple of months we’ll begin to share more information on the specific IW investments we’re making in SharePoint 2016.

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Question: In which areas will we see significant improvements: Collaboration, WCM, search, bi…?

To date our disclosure has predominantly been related to our core infrastructure investments as that’s the primary investment area when we begin development – over the course of the next several months we’ll begin sharing (as soon as we know) what specific workload areas will be advanced.

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Question: Will SharePoint Server 2016 see the removal of any existing features, functionality, and services?

We do not have plans to deprecate any of the capabilities as they exist in SharePoint 2013 for SharePoint 2016.
Basically SharePoint Server 2016 is our first cloud-down release, which means we looked to SharePoint Online to provide the foundation of SharePoint Server 2016 (which can be thought of as a point in time snapshot) – once that fork was established we backported capabilities that exist in SharePoint Server 2013 for backward compatibility (I.e. PerformancePoint) that do not exist in SharePoint Online. This doesn’t mean SharePoint Server 2016 is a replica of SharePoint Online – we looked to SharePoint Online to see what capabilities we could deliver wholesale and which made sense to do so, with those capabilities that cannot be put on a DVD per se, we looked to bring those to on-premises through hybrid or “cloud accelerated experience”, lastly we’ll look at what discrete differentiating value we can bring to on-premises that is unique to on-premises. That’s where we at right now.

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QuestionI have a question: What changes will be available for workflow engine in comparison to current workflow engine 2013? May be Microsoft plans to add new workflow actions or new API for publishing workflow actions.

For Workflow we’ll bring forward the existing capabilities from SharePoint 2013, I.e. Workflow Foundation and Workflow Manager. In parallel to this work we are also actively investigating new, modern Workflow scenarios, but don’t have any announcements on that today.

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Question: Will the 10 GB upload limit be achieved on SharePoint 2016 On-Premise? If yes, by increasing the limitation on the SQL Server side table or using RBS? If using RBS, which provider? Filestream?

10GB File size will be native to SharePoint and will not require the use of a native and/or 3rd party RBS provider. BLOBs will be stored in the database and shredded per our Shredded Store investments in SharePoint 2013 which have been advanced in 2016 – BITS will optimize upload and download chunking.

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Question: I thought the Exchange 2016 roadmap session was pretty interesting. Documents linked from OnPrem / O365 SharePoint are directly made available permissionwise to the recipients of the mail. Nice!

How would this work with OnPrem environments and external contacts? Surely it wouldn’t set up ADFS in the background automatically

We don’t have plans to enable programmatic ADFS scenarios within Exchange and/or SharePoint, but have invested in making S2S scenarios better in 2016.

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Question: I’ve been doing a lot of work recently around the synchronization of user profile properties from on-prem to SharePoint Online. This has involved custom code and the OfficeDev PnP team has plenty that we use for this. Is there going to be some mechanism in a SharePoint 2016/SharePoint Online hybrid environment that allows for a more useful (rapid) sync between what we have on-prem and what’s in the cloud?

Our current hybrid plans include doing some work to address custom attributes and profiles that will reduce some of the challenges with profile consistency across cloud and on-premises. I wouldn’t view these initial investments as profile replication across cloud and on-premises, but a new method to keep profiles consistent. In addition, we’re continuing our investigation on this front, so please do share your feedback.

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Question: What are the recommendations for syncing on premise Term Sets to cloud so that we have consistent terminology across our hybrid environment?

We’re investigating this scenario – it came thru load and clear at Microsoft Ignite that Term Store consistency across cloud and on-premises is a necessity for our customers considering the cloud – we have a work item to look into this. Near term we have partners such as BA Insight who have built solutions to address this scenario in SharePoint 2013.

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Question: Are there any improvements in web analytics planned for SP 2016. This has been a major pain point for SP 2013 (for my work at least)

We’re working on a new analytics solution that provides a more rich experience when compared to previous Web Analytics experiences in SharePoint we demonstrated briefly at Microsoft Ignite. We’ve also recently updated suggestions on the topic at sharepoint.uservoice.com.

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Question: Anything on external sharing in SP16?

We have a new hybrid Extranet scenario designed specifically for those external sharing/Extranet scenarios that leverages our federation services. We’ll be sharing more details on this scenario soon.

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Question: Will custom NextGen Portals be part of SharePoint 2016?

For NextGen Portal experiences such as Delve, Video, etc. we’re investing in bringing them to our on-premises customers via hybrid scenarios as many take dependencies on technologies we cannot package on a DVD, I.e. WAMS, Office Graph, etc.

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Question: SAML claims-based authentication is the preferred AuthN method. Will Windows NTLM and Kerberos authentication disappear from the New/Extend Web Application pages in Central Administration like Classic Auth did in 2013? In other words will Windows authentication be a PowerShell-only configuration or will the option still be present in Central Administration?

Windows classic authentication (I.e. NTLM / Kerberos) will remain supported and available through the UX. We’re just investing more in cloud-era authentication as opposed to domain-based authentication.

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Question: How can SharePoint Server 2016 rely on a deprecated Windows Server AppFabric 1.1 product? How does that work?

Our partner team that develops AppFabric is committed to continued support of AppFabric embedded in server products such as SharePoint, as such AppFabric remains supported with SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016 thru their respective lifecycles. This announcement is specific to standalone AppFabric scenarios.

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Question: How will the roadmaps for SPO and SharePoint 2016 be aligned, feature sets etc?

SharePoint on-premises will continue to ship on a 2-3 year cadence whereas we update SharePoint Online monthly. Our objective of defining on-premises through the cloud will bring some near term parity, but online will receive new capabilities first.

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Question: Will responsive page support be added to the out of the box SharePoint Team site template so pages, doc libraries, and lists will show on any device. The current 2013 mobile experience is very limiting an mostly geared towards file viewing.

Responsive design is something we’re looking into per our recent update to sharepoint.uservoice.com – we don’t have additional details to share at this moment, but we are making advancements in the product to support mobile scenarios near term to include a new touch UX and more.

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Question: Can we have discussion about the InfoPath deprecation and what organizations should expect and should do about it?

Our plans include bringing forward InfoPath Forms Services to SharePoint 2016 and supporting the InfoPath 2013 client with SharePoint 2016. EOS for InfoPath 2013 is thru 2023. We’ll investigate new Forms and Workflows scenarios in parallel to ongoing support for InfoPath experiences.

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Question: Are SharePoint 2016 master pages would be responsive? any inbuilt support for bootstrap or other frameworks.

Responsive design is something we’re looking into per our recent update to sharepoint.uservoice.com – we don’t have additional details to share at this moment, but we are making advancements in the product to support mobile scenarios near term to include a new touch UX and more.

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Question: Is there going to be a SharePoint Foundation 2016?

We are not shipping SharePoint Foundation with SharePoint Server 2016. However, SharePoint Foundation is an important component of SharePoint, and we will continue to evaluate how customers are using SharePoint Foundation so we can deliver on those scenarios in the right way.

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Bill Baer had a wrap-up about SharePoint 2016 installation and deployment in his blog. Go read it http://blogs.technet.com/b/wbaer/archive/2015/05/12/what-s-new-in-sharepoint-server-2016-installation-and-deployment.aspx