IT Management Blog: my thoughts about putting the "i" in IT

Integrate MS SharePoint document management features in Windows Explorer

I think it is time that Microsoft integrates SharePoint document management functionality in Windows Explorer.

SharePoint started as an Intranet/Collaboration tool with document management features. Making it a browser based tool seemed like a good idea at the time and in relation to quite a few features a necessity. However, organisations have started using SharePoint as an enterprise document and records management tool.

Though SharePoint has many limitations for effective document management to replace a shared network drive, one of the hurdles that limits the uptake of SharePoint is the performance. Maybe 10 years ago we thought that the browser would be the replacement of the operating system, but that has not happened yet. Internet Explorer is still just a browser.

When moving documents in and out of SharePoint, users are confronted with many limitations, just to mention a few:
  • You can't easily attach a document in SharePoint to an email unless you buy a third party tool;
  • You can't save directly into SharePoint from non-MS Office tools such as Acrobat;
  • You can't drag and drop files into SharePoint (unless switching to the Windows Explorer view);
  • IE running Javascript is inherently slow compared to a native Windows application.
Since SharePoint only works within IE and IE only runs on the Windows platform, it only makes sense to ingrate the SharePoint document management features into Windows Explorer.

Microsoft might want to release SharePoint SAAS services that will require a remote browser, but that is not enough reason for me to continue with the current solution for in-house installations.