Microsoft sent the SharePoint Portal Server to our Green Bay, Wis., business applications lab. I installed it on a single processor Intel white box with 1 GB of memory running Windows 2003. I had to choose to make my machine an application server, which instigated an odd conflict. When Windows 2003 installs the Application Server components, it turns on SharePoint Windows 2003 Services and Front Page Extensions by default. Unfortunately, SharePoint 2003 will not install until you deactivate them. This is a minor annoyance, but it is indicative of the problems Microsoft has with deep integration of its products.
Once I got everything configured to SharePoint's satisfaction, I set up the default portal to use for my fictional corporation. Within the portal are "subareas"--consider them individual sites for divisions such as HR, support, sales and marketing. The divisions start out with nothing much in them--you build them from such choices as generic Excel-like lists, discussions, document libraries, news lists and lists of scheduled events. As admin, you can also decide at this point to allow some or all users to create personal sites.
Despite the ease of creating sites, I was overwhelmed by the ways and places pages could be created on SharePoint. Some items, such as personal page parameters and disk-space allotment, can be controlled through the management console, but strong and thorough user policies and rights need to be administered and monitored.
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