A number of times, people have said that we can solve the problem of confusion around the word “SharePoint” by just getting rid of the word. For example, we could just have “Portal Server” stand on it’s own, and we could rename WSS “Windows Collaboraiton Services”. In fact, our own Windows Server team at one point considered creating a server role entitled “Collaboration Server” for the upcoming R2 release of Windows Server 2003 (which will have WSS packaged inside of it).
It’s tempting, but it’s too limiting. Repeat after me: SharePoint Services is a platform. The collaboration solution is just something we shipped on top of it.
WSS’ platform is for far more than collaboration. Is BizTalk Server’s Business Activity Monitor (BAM) collaboration? No. Are Microsoft Business Solutions’ various Business Portals collaboration? No. Heck, is SharePoint Portal Server collab tech? No.
For business value audiences, talking about WSS as collaboration technology is fine. But what WSS really offers you is a way for developing and deploying highly repeatable Web site solutions. Sites that consume very little incremental overhead. Sites that are accessible by both smart clients and browsers. Sites that provide a large set of built-in storage and tool resources. In other words: SharePoint sites. They’re something new (well, new in 2003), and something special.
You can (and should) use SharePoint site technology to build many kinds of applications. Yes, many problem spaces to which we’re well suited involve collaboration (Visual Studio Team System, Class Server, Project Server, Brightwork, etc.), but to confine our value to collaboration is far too limiting.