Microsoft is releasing a slew of new technologies in 2010, and one of the most important of them is SharePoint 2010. Previously known by the code name SharePoint 14, SharePoint 2010 marks a significant upgrade to the SharePoint product. Here are ten of the most important things about the SharePoint 2010 release, which is expected to be available in the first half of 2010.

10. New SharePoint editions—In an effort to better unify the SharePoint lineup, Microsoft will make some big changes to the SharePoint editions with the 2010 release. Windows SharePoint Server (WSS) is gone, and so is Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS). The free WSS has been replaced by the new SharePoint Foundation 2010. MOSS is replaced by SharePoint Server 2010, which will be available in either the Standard or Enterprise edition as well as in editions for strictly internal sites and for Internet or extranet sites.

9. New hardware requirements—Like the majority of new Microsoft servers, SharePoint 2010 will ship only as a 64-bit product. If you're deploying SharePoint on new hardware, this situation shouldn't be a problem, but it's definitely a consideration if you're planning to upgrade an existing SharePoint server.

8. New software requirements—In addition to new hardware requirements, SharePoint 2010 will require an x64 edition of either Windows Server 2008 or Server 2008 R2. It also requires a 64-bit version of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server 2005.

7. SharePoint Best Practices Analyzer—With the SharePoint 2010 release, SharePoint Best Practices Analyzer will be incorporated as part of the base SharePoint product. This tool provides Microsoft's guidance for SharePoint implementation and troubleshooting. A Problems and Solutions page in the analyzer helps you solve common implementation problems.

6. FAST Search—The new SharePoint release will incorporate the FAST Search technology that Microsoft acquired from the Norway-based Fast Search & Transfer company. The FAST technology provides a superset of the original SharePoint search capabilities. As its name implies, FAST Search is designed for high-end scalability. It supports a number of enhanced capabilities, including a content-processing pipeline, metadata extraction, visual search, and advanced linguistics.

5. Usage reporting and logging—SharePoint 2010 includes a new database designed to support usage reporting and logging. The usage database is extensible, allowing third-party vendors to create custom reports based on the information it contains.

4. Visio Services—Visio Services in SharePoint 2010 lets users share and collaborate on Visio diagrams. A built-in viewer lets SharePoint users view Visio files in their browser without having Visio installed on their system. Visio Services also retrieves and renders any external data used in the Visio diagrams.

3. Enhanced collaboration features—SharePoint 2010 supports tagging content as well as providing enhanced blog authoring capabilities. There's a new group authentication feature that's based on distribution list or organization and a new rich text editor for creating wikis. In addition, calendars from Microsoft Exchange Server can be merged with SharePoint calendars.

2. New browser support—SharePoint 2010 supports an extended set of browsers. It's designed to support XHTML 1.0–compliant browsers and will support Internet Explorer (IE) 8.0 and IE 7.0, Firefox, and Safari. Notably, IE 6.0 isn't supported. So far, there's been no official mention of Google Chrome or Opera.

1. Enhanced SharePoint Designer—Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 sports a new UI, improved workflow, and improved integration between designers. Although there were doubts about the Office 2007 ribbon-style interface when it was first released, Microsoft has been steadily putting the ribbon UI in many of its products, including SharePoint 2010. The new designer also has a tabbed interface and provides breadcrumb navigation.