Microsoft ISV Brings SharePoint Services To Vista

Developers have long decried the difficulties of using SharePoint as a development platform, and many have been using Virtual PC or VMware as a workaround. But this isn't an option in companies that don't allow server installations on workstations or virtual PCs.

Lam Le, COO of Bamboo Solutions, Reston, Va., says the new tool, called Bamboo Nation, lets developers install Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 SP1 on PCs running Vista and work outside the server environment.

"We work with many Microsoft SharePoint MVPs, and they have been asking for this forever," Le said.

Bamboo Nation is another example of the strength of Microsoft's channel program, in which some partners -- especially ISVs -- have built up their house expertise in certain products to a level that rivals that of Microsoft itself. But it's unclear whether the tool will fill a need for all SharePoint developers.

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"The interesting thing about this is that with a simple hack, [Bamboo] has solved a huge problem for SharePoint application development," said Tim Huckaby, CEO of Interknowlogy, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based solution provider.

Arthur Brost, portals and collaboration practice manager at twentysix New York, a solution provider in New York City, sees the potential value of Bamboo's tool, but says he doesn't do development work on his main desktop because of the potential for projects to get "cross-polluted".

"Even for plain .Net projects, I prefer to have a virtual PC or virtual machine per project, so I can be sure that I have a clean environment, and one that can be boxed up at the end so I can restore it if I ever need to make updates," Brost said.

Brost says Bamboo Nation would be useful for developers who aren't allowed to setup virtual PCs. However, "I'm guessing most of them are still on XP, and the version of IIS in XP lacks several features required by SharePoint, so that will never be an option," he said.

In a Friday blog post, Chris Johnson, a program manager in the Windows SharePoint Services team at Microsoft, acknowledged the usefulness of Bamboo's tool, but said Microsoft doesn't support it.

"We have not tested [Windows SharePoint Services] on Vista and thus make no commitment to supporting this," wrote Johnson. "Maybe some time in the future we will look at this, but for now we don't have any plans."

Johnson said that Microsoft would have to devote an inordinate amount of time and resources to testing such a tool to ensure that people wouldn't lose data as a result of using it. But in Johnson's blog post, there was also a clear tone of admiration for Bamboo's work.

"I imagine that [Bamboo Nation] will not bother many people and we will end up seeing this being a popular option," Johnson wrote.