Microsoft announces SharePoint Server 2016 Feature Pack 1

Microsoft has just announced the first Feature Pack for SharePoint Server 2016, Feature Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2016. These Feature Packs, of which there will be more, are a way of rolling out additional features on a regular basis instead of launching them with a major software update every few years, which had been the case before now.

The Feature Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2016 will debut sometime in November of this year and it will contain a variety of improvements and refinements for administration, improved OneDrive for Business functionality, and add custom tiles in the SharePoint app launcher, and more.

Where administration is concerned, Feature Pack 1 will add functionality for logging of common administrative actions performed in the Central Administration website and with Windows PowerShell and expanded capabilities for MiniRole which can now work with smaller farm topologies.

“MinRole was originally optimized for larger farm topologies. With four server roles, the minimal requirement for a supported MinRole configuration was a four-server farm,” Microsoft’s SharePoint Team explains. “A farm with high availability (HA) requires two servers for each role, making eight servers the minimal requirement for a HA MinRole configuration. You told us that you would like to have the benefits of MinRole with smaller farm topologies too. We listened to you and enhanced MinRole to address this request.”

“Once the new MinRole enhancements are enabled, you will notice that two additional server roles are available: ‘Front-end with Distributed Cache’ and ‘Application with Search,’” the SharePoint Team says. “The Front-end with Distributed Cache role combines the Front-end and Distributed Cache roles together, while the Application with Search role combines the Application and Search roles together. These new roles let you host a multi-server MinRole farm with just two servers or four servers with HA.”

In addition to the new administrative features, the first Feature Pack will also expand the SharePoint user experience. After the pack has launched, OneDrive for Business will gain compatibility with SharePoint Server 2016 and is described by Microsoft as a “Software Assurance benefit.”

The App Launcher, which was introduced with the launch of SharePoint Server 2016, will let users create their own custom tiles which can target other SharePoint sites, external sites, legacy apps, or other locations in addition to the currently available apps and services options.

A new feature, unified auditing, will enter preview in Feature Pack 1. “Unified auditing gives SharePoint administrators detailed visibility into file access activities across all site collections, on-premises and in Office 365,” Microsoft explains. “With unified auditing in place, the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center can provide audit logs search for your SharePoint Server 2016 on-premises audit logs in addition to Office 365 audit logs.” Users will also be able to implement a unified taxonomy across a SharePoint Server 2016 farm and Office 365 as well as site collections and web applications.

Feature Pack 1 will see the arrival of support for the new OneDrive API 2.0. This will grant developers access to files stored locally on a device and in the Office 365 cloud and use data relating to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint document libraries.

Feature Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2016 will be free when it launches in two months’ time. More information, including its specific release date, is expected to be announced soon. Are you excited for these new features? Let us know in the comments below.

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