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SharePoint Server 2016 Feature Pack 1

Kyle Ziber Kyle Ziber  |  
Feb 03, 2017
 
This blog is coming a little late to the game, but I wanted to make sure to finally take the time and talk about the SharePoint 2016 November Update. Microsoft has packaged up Feature Pack 1, which was talked heavily about at Ignite 2016, into the November patch. There are a few new features that I think need to be brought to light.
 
The biggest piece to Feature Pack 1 is the inclusion of The SharePoint Framework that was introduced back in May 2016 in the May the 4th Future of SharePoint event. The SharePoint Framework is the new features and design elements that are already being used heavily in SharePoint Online. These include the new Document Library User Interface and the OneDrive UI overhaul. In SharePoint 2016, OneDrive has been completely overhauled after installing the November patch. You’ll notice right away that it’s a whole new UI and if you’re familiar with O365 it’ll look very familiar.
 
I love the new UI, but there are some concerns around this new Framework being pushed down to on-prem. One of the biggest reasons people decide to stay on-prem is that they want to have customization of their SharePoint environment. These may include custom solutions and custom branding elements. Currently, Microsoft doesn’t have a full plan for branding the new UI which is a major concern for anyone who is on-prem due to their need for branding. Since Feature Pack 1 is being pushed in a normal SharePoint monthly update, this means to stay current in patching you may have to sacrifice your branding for OneDrive for Business.
 
Now that we’ve gotten past my big issue with Feature Pack 1 let’s talk about the fun stuff…New Features! The first and biggest feature added, next to The SharePoint Framework, is the new enhancements to MinRole. Microsoft has added two new levels for MinRole that allow for smaller farms to utilize this feature. The two roles are Application Server with Search and Web Server with Distributed Cache which means you can now build a MinRole SharePoint farm with as little as two servers. After installing Feature Pack 1, I was able to change my server’s roles to these new MinRoles and it looks to be a fairly decent setup. My only real complaint is that you can’t move the Query Processing or Index for search out to the WFE as all search services are running on the App server.
 
Feature Pack 1 also adds the ability to log Administrative actions and add custom Tiles to the App Launcher/Waffle. These are two features that I haven’t had time to play with yet, but I think are great additions. Along with the new changes to OneDrive, Microsoft has included the new OneDrive API which should allow for better integration with 3rd party products and the new OneDrive client that was just released. Lastly, there is a new Hybrid configuration that allows you to setup hybrid taxonomy. This new configuration means that you can setup both Hybrid Search and Managed Metadata services with SharePoint Online which is another great step towards better integration between the two platforms.
 
Finally, this isn’t really a part of Feature Pack 1 as much as the November Update, Microsoft has fixed the annoying Health Analyzer alert for Missing Server Side Dependencies on a vanillas installation. For those who watch the logs and the Health Analyzer, this is great news. This fix finally cleans up the un-needed log noise that has been seen since the product was launched earlier this year.
 
In conclusion, I think Microsoft has made some good decisions in their first Feature Pack release to on-prem. The features and fixes introduced to on-prem allow for easier management and closer functionality to what we see in SharePoint Online. The closer on-prem SharePoint is to SharePoint Online will mean that we will be in a better place to utilize a Hybrid approach.
 
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