Executive Summary:
Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 is a free download from Microsoft's website; Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 is a licensed server product. Both products enable online document sharing and collaboration, but MOSS 2007 includes additional enterprise-oriented features. SharePoint allows collaboration on Microsoft Office documents, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as on wikis, blogs, shared calendars, and tasks.

Microsoft SharePoint is one of the fastest growing IT technologies today. It seems like SharePoint sites are popping up faster than hair on a time-lapsed Chia Pet. If you aren't yet on the SharePoint bandwagon because you aren’t quite sure what SharePoint is and how you might use it, this column answers some of your questions.

1. What is SharePoint?—Both Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 enable online document sharing and collaboration. WSS 3.0 is a free download from Microsoft's website and MOSS 2007 is a licensed server product.

2. What’s the difference between the two?—Both products include blogs, wikis, shared calendars, and document sharing, but MOSS provides additional enterprise-oriented features, including Enterprise Portal site templates, a My Site personal site for individual users, RSS content syndication, and mobile-device support. A detailed list of the differences is at office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/FX101758691033.aspx.

3. What are the WSS 3.0 requirements?—The recommended system requirements for WSS 3.0 are a 2.5 GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 3GB of free disk storage. WSS runs on Windows Server 2003 SP1 or higher. Windows 2003 systems must run Microsoft Internet Informatin Services (IIS) 6.0 or later; Server 2008 requires IIS 7.0. WSS also requires .NET Framework 3.0 or later. Administration requires Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later with the latest service pack.

4. Do I need Microsoft SQL Server to use SharePoint?—You do, but SharePoint installs what it calls Windows Internal Database—actually SQL Server 2005 Express—which is free. SharePoint also works with SQL Server 2000 SP4, SQL Server 2005 SP2, and SQL Server 2008. (Using SQL Server 2008 requires WSS 3.0 SP1.)

5. What types of documents does SharePoint allow collaboration on?—SharePoint lets you collaborate with all the common document formats in the Microsoft Office suite, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. SharePoint also supports collaboration through wikis, blogs, shared calendars, and tasks.

6. Why should I use SharePoint instead of a file share?—SharePoint supports document version control, which lets users check out documents for modification, then check them back in. Users can see the status of documents and who has them checked out and can receive notification when a document is changed. SharePoint also saves each version of each document, making it possible to restore a document to a previous state.

7. Do I have to program in .NET to develop SharePoint sites?—No. SharePoint itself is actually an ASP.NET application, but neither WSS nor MOSS requires any programming to create and manage sites. However, developers can enhance the functionality of SharePoint with Web Parts, which are essentially ASP.NET custom controls.

8. Where can I find SharePoint?—You can download both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of WSS 3.0 from technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsserver/sharepoint/bb400747.aspx. WSS 3.0 SP1 is at www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=4191A531-A2E9-45E4-B71E-5B0B17108BD2. You can download a trial version of MOSS 2007 from www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=2E6E5A9C-EBF6-4F7F-8467-F4DE6BD6B831.

9. How do I get started building WSS sites?—You can build basic sites from scratch by using built-in menu options. However, one of the best ways to get up to speed quickly is to use Microsoft’s WSS application templates, which give you a variety of prebuilt sites as well as showing you some of the things you can do with WSS. There are about 40 templates you can download at technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsserver/sharepoint/bb407286.aspx. These templates can also be used with MOSS.

10. What's a good resource for learning more about SharePoint?—One of the best SharePoint resources is our own Office & SharePoint Pro website. The Office & SharePoint Pro site has a plethora of technical articles as well as blogs, forums, and videos. You can find it at www.officesharepointpro.com.