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Office 2003, Active Directory and SharePoint Services

If collaboration is important for your company, don't ignore Microsoft Office 2003. But first, you'll need Windows Server 2003 and Active Directory.

When Office 2003 is used in a Windows Server 2003 Active Directory environment it can improve worker collaboration and individual productivity through the use of shared workspaces. Shared workspaces created through Office 2003 rely upon the Windows SharePoint Services hosted on Windows Server 2003 systems. Workspaces allow multiple people to work together in creating an Office document. The workspace supports announcement or notifications, sharing contact information, posting event schedules, assigning work tasks, tracking issues and problems and hosting real-time discussions. And all of this takes place either directly through an Office application or a Web browser.

Windows SharePoint Services is a newly released add-on to Windows Server 2003. It is a foundational element used to create and support virtual locations where workers can collaborate on projects. SharePoint expands on previous notions and capabilities of worker collaboration by adding additional flexibility and versatility to workspace management and greatly improves the security mechanisms of the overall environment.

In order to support these collaboration features of Office 2003, Windows SharePoint Services must be installed onto Windows Server 2003. The installation files are available from the Windows SharePoint Service area of the Windows Server 2003 Web site. SharePoint can only be installed on Windows Server 2003 systems. However, if the server already supports Web applications, Exchange or requires Kerberos authentication, then several post-installation configuration steps are necessary (details are available from the download page).

When planning to install SharePoint, there are several important system preparation steps to follow:

  1. Remove FrontPage Extensions 2002 (readme file provides instructions)
  2. Make sure Read and Run Scripts permissions are enabled in IIS before extending virtual servers
  3. On all Windows 2003 systems, add the URL of all virtual servers hosted by SharePoint enhanced systems to the Local Intranet Zone through Internet Explorer. This may also be necessary on Windows XP after SP2.

Once SharePoint is installed, there are a few other issues to keep in mind:

  1. Source code for Web Part Pages can be viewed when placed in a document library (i.e. shared workplace)
  2. Temporary files may be left on server disk and consume significant storage space. Install a Windows Server 2003 update (KB824629) to allow the system to automatically delete orphaned temp files.
  3. Lack of permissions for application pool account can cause Web Parts to not display on home page. So, re-configure temp directory permissions.
  4. Using Windows SharePoint Services and Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration on the same virtual server. Requires modification to the UDDI web.config file.

Each of these issues has a workaround or repair procedure which is detailed in the readme file available through the SharePoint Web site and as part of the installation file set.

If work project collaboration is an important capability for your office, you should look further into Office 2003 and SharePoint at the Web site.

James Michael Stewart is a partner and researcher for ITinfopros, a technology-focused writing and training organization.

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