The Microsoft SharePoint team put together a very good blog post detailing the history of SharePoint. They posted it on Monday, October 5, 2009, just a couple of weeks before the big SharePoint 2010 announcements they’ll be making at the SharePoint Conference.
My own history with SharePoint, going back to a proof of concept I did with SharePoint Portal Server 2001, isn’t nearly as happy as they describe. What I do remember from eight years ago, was some of the very odd UI that it had. (I think this stemmed from SharePoint’s data storage being based on Exchange.) If I remember right, you had a drive in Windows Explorer that exposed documents and other related bits, much like Exchange’s M drive.
I did love the idea of the search engine in SharePoint from 2001. We pointed it to our internal file servers, Exchange, and some external websites and I was constantly amazed about having search results from all of these sources in one screen. SharePoint 2007 still has this ability and I think this is still a great way to promote adoption of SharePoint within an organization.