Understand the differences between Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 may have very similar names, but in many regards, the resemblance ends there. (Hint: One is free.) Scott Lowe discerns the difference and explains what you can learn from the free version.

Microsoft recently released Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (WSS) and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (SS). Great! Now, what is the difference between two products that have very, very similar names?

Let's start with the packaging. (No, not the physical wrapping.) WSS is included as a free add-on for Windows Server 2003. As long as you own a Windows Server 2003 license, you are entitled to use WSS. SS, on the other hand, is a completely separate product with a separate licensing structure. That means that SS costs more.

Why? Simply put, WSS contains a subset of the full functionality provided by SS. For example, while both products provide enterprise content management features, WSS provides templates to build a Web site based on the tool, SS provides a whole host of other features, including content authoring from within the browser, information retention policies, and business document workflow.

Here's a quick look at both platforms.

Collaboration: Both products provide a variety of collaboration features, including wikis, blogs, surveys, document collaboration tools, shared calendars, and more; SS also provides a social networking feature that is not present in WSS.

Enterprise Content Management: SS handily beats WSS in this area; SS has now absorbed Microsoft's Content Management Server product. As such, SS maintains its powerful portal roots while also providing content management capabilities. WS is designed mainly to add collaborative capability to existing Windows Server users and does not provide much in the way of content management.

Forms: There is another member of the WSS/SS family, too. Called Forms Server, it does exactly what its name implies: The server provides significant online forms capability. Forms Server is also a subset of the full SS product; in fact, WSS contains none of the main functionality provided in SS's forms offerings.

Business Intelligence: WSS does not contain any BI capability. SS includes a ton of it, though.


The short story is this: Windows SharePoint Services contains a subset of the capabilities provided in the full SharePoint Server product. Intended mainly for collaboration with others inside the company, WSS can provide an outstanding (and free) place to begin determining what you can accomplish with the full (and very expensive) SS product.

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