SharePoint Server 2016 Beta 2 (2nd Preview)

Download SharePoint Server 2016 Beta 2 here:

Product key for SharePoint Server 2016 1st preview: NQGJR-63HC8-XCRQH-MYVCH-3J3QR
This gives you a 180 day trial.

Review SharePoint Server 2013 (also applies to SharePoint 2016)  system requirements


SharePoint Server 2016 Beta 1 (1st Preview)

Download the SharePoint Server 2016 Preview here:

Not that you would want to spend time on an older preview but its there for reference purposes.

Product key for SharePoint Server 2016 1st preview: NQTMW-K63MQ-39G6H-B2CH9-FRDWJ
This gives you a 180 day trial.

Here are the new SharePoint Server 2016 features that were discussed at Microsoft Ignite Conference, Chicago in May 2015. Since SharePoint 2016 is almost a year away and its still in early development stages, the features and specifics here might change.


I’d like to highlight the major points based on what Bill Baer (Microsoft) presented at Microsoft Ignite 2015.

  • SharePoint 2013 is the genesis block for all future versions of SharePoint. SharePoint 2013 is the kernel of all future SharePoint versions.
  • SharePoint 2013 is the stepping stone for SharePoint 2016. If you are on SharePoint 2010, there is no way you can skip a version and upgrade directly to SharePoint 2016. Microsoft has built SharePoint 2016 on SharePoint 2013, so the Site Collection upgrade sequence is to upgrade SharePoint 2010 databases (E.g. database attach) to SharePoint 2013 first, then upgrade (E.g. same database attach) to SharePoint 2016. n-2 is not possible because Microsoft felt that was the best way for upgrade due to substantial changes between the architecture of SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2016. Note – Site Collections must be in SharePoint 2013 (v 15) mode not SharePoint 2010 (v 14).
  • Content can be migrated but possible with 3rd party tools.
  • Same SharePoint Service Application architecture will remain.
  • SAML claims Authentication is the default and first class citizen. Business Intelligence
  • Older authentication models such as Windows claims Authentication will be still supported. Moving towards Oauth / OpenID
  • Messaging security – SMTP connection will be encrypted.  E.g. STARTTLS. Can run on non-default ports
  • SharePoint Distributed (AppFabric) Cache will be present. AppFabric will be continued to be supported for Microsoft products that use AppFabric as well as for non-Microsoft developed products till April 2017 (Mainstream support) and April 2022 (Extended support)
  • Minrole –  SharePoint logic consolidated into one single machine reducing the number of discrete roles.
  • User role – user initiated services, Robot services role – non user initiated like timer jobs, Caching services role – the distributed cache.
  • SharePoint roles:
    • Special Load role – Custom service applications, services and components that are outside of MinRole topology can be placed on these servers. Agnostic role reserved for services that needed to be isolated from other services such as 3rd party solutions. Any other SharePoint service can be started on these servers like how it was in previous versions of SharePoint (2013, 2010)..
    • Web Front End  – Service applications, services and components that serve user requests are placed on front end servers. These servers are optimized for fast performance.
    • Search – Service applications, services and components that are required for search are placed on these servers such as search index and crawling.
    • Application – Service applications, services and components that serve backend requests (E.g. search crawl requests) are placed on application roles. These servers are optimized for high throughput. This is also referred to as the ‘Robot Services role’
    • Distributed Cache – Serves distributed cache for the farm.  Servers assigned to this role can load balance end user requests among the web front ends. These servers are part of the SharePoint Distributed cache cluster.
  • Role enforcement job runs every day and it ensures the server is “In Compliance” to the Role selected except for the Special Load role. Each role runs its own set of defined services (except for Special Load role where you can do your own thing). SharePoint Administrators can ‘fix’ a server and bring it back to a compliant state.
  • Single Server farm installation does not include SQL Server express anymore. In earlier versions, SQL Express was included.
  • Zero downtime patching (build to build) in SharePoint 2016! As the updates will have a small amount of MSI and MSP files, Microsoft has worked hard on ensuring zero downtime with transparent online installers! Updates are smaller and execute faster. Microsoft promises that you can “install your patches now in the middle of the day, completely transparent to your users because all of our upgraders run online”. In the past all the upgraders ran offline which required constant starting and stopping of services, resulting in down time in a SharePoint farm.
  • NTLM authentication issues with Distributed Cache have been resolved with SharePoint 2016. New transport layer fix in Distributed Cache. Under high load, the Distributed Cache cluster would suffer performance issues due to authentication overload. Each time a user made a request, authentication would take place against Active Directory in order to facilitate that request. Also more connections supported. More scalable and more reliable Distributed Cache.
  • Possible to offer 99.9% or 99.99% SLA due to SharePoint 2016 improvements in Distributed Cache and Minrole
  • Content Databases to potentially scale into the TB’s.
  • 100,000 site collections per Content Database (5 times the amount in SharePoint 2013)
  • List View Threshold to increase well beyond 5000!
  • Maximum file size will increase to 10GB from 2GB in SharePoint 2013 and removed character restrictions
  • Search scale increased to 500 million items
  • BITS protocol will be used for file upload and download – minimises the chatter between SharePoint clients, web servers and database servers.
  • Fast Site creation – ability to provision sites rapidly. Copy SP site method at the database level from SP Site ‘templates’ or ‘Master copies’ in the Content Database already pre-created and ready to go. Basically copying rows from A to B to create a new site so it’s a very rapid process now.
  • Traffic Management – possible to allow 99.99% availability. It’s a new endpoint that runs on the web front ends and establishes affinity between the load balancer (E.g. F5 Big IP) and that web server. It can isolate requests and provides intelligent routing based on variables (health, servicing etc). It’s like a new intelligent transport layer that can drive user the user request through the topology. It will have the ability to send the user request to servers that are capable of responding to that user request. This feature may or may not be developed in the on-premises SharePoint 2016 product.
  • The User Profile Service sync tool (ForeFront Identity Manager) will no longer be bundled into the SharePoint 2016 product. Only Active Directory import (uni-directional) synchronisation will be possible out of the box. If you want to write back to Active Directory, you will have to use an external Identity Management System such as external FIM (or the new Microsoft Identity Management).
  • Project Server 2016 databases will be consolidated into the SharePoint content database. Project Server 2016 will continue to be licensed separately – not included in the SharePoint license.
  • Durable links – resource ID based urls. A new Redirect Manager will provide the right way to get to a file even if its moved. Urls will remain intact with rename and move. It will work between Site Collections as well.
  • Real time telemetry – advanced data analytics and reporting. Real time user monitoring. E.g. how often do users get a 404 error message. Some examples of the advanced insights are how fast and which sites have a greater latency than other sites.
  • New enhanced usage database. New SharePoint logging API (SLAPI) – used to figure how users are using SharePoint for to better understand how users interact with SharePoint. Reports would provide for growth trends and forecasting, usage by SharePoint site template etc.
  • New hybrid approaches to leverage services in Office 365 through a subscription model where new cloud features will be available to On-Premises SharePoint farms with the content remaining on-premises.
  • New Classification ID – complex query based on complex predicate – more complex and secure discovery
  • Document finger printing – Item level encryption through hybrid connectivity.
  • Ediscovery will work across on-premises and the cloud
  • New cloud search service application – will ship with SharePoint Server 2016 to leverage the power of the Office Graph. This is coming to SharePoint Server 2013 later this year (2015). This will unify the search index and it will be located in Office 365. Delve itself will not be brought into on-premises.
  • New extranet scenario – site publishing. Ability to publish internal sites to internet. Easily share sites with external parties without the need of them having complex infrastructure like ADFS.
  • No more complex PowerShell scripts and us having to refer to 15 different TechNet articles to set up SharePoint hybrid. A new hybrid deployment automation wizard is in the pipeline. The new wizard will be provided to look at the prerequisites for a hybrid scenario and help configure them.