"Both sets of tools fall into the same broad category of softare, knowledge management systems. You have people in your organization, on teams, and they need to share stuff and communicate. Both system have a content management (CMS) part. Radio is more about communicating via ad hoc, spur of the moment notes. You can just pop in and log something. SharePoint is more about publishing Office documents. Everything Microsoft does has to be Big and Scalable. Can it handle 10,000, 100,000, or 1 million users? How many servers have to be clustered for that to happen? Backups? Replications? And so forth. It seems pretty top down."
Ballmer once commented during a big company sales meeting (summer of ’97 of ’98, I can’t remember) that it was fun to realize Lotus Notes often won accounts through bottom-up departmental sales, while Exchange was increasingly stronger in big top-to-bottom sales. It felt a little weird because Microsoft came from the desktop, while Notes was pushed by IBM, the big brass enterprise vendor among all.
The Microsoft of 2002 is probably very comfortable at playing the enterprise game now, with lots of desktops converted to Exchange/Outlook, and SQL 2000 coming on top of some pure performance benchmarks (less than 5 years ago, SQL Server 6.5 could only fight on lower-end price/performance). The big clusters running Windows 2000 Advanced Server beat the crap out of their older, smaller brothers by a factor of 1,000. The usual caveat about benchmarks, statistics and lies taken into account, it’s still a huge step forward in just a few years.
This also leaves room for more agile (some pun intended) competitors to creep from the bottom, and that’s a good thing.
Disclosure (I won’t make it everytime I post about Microsoft and its competition, but it’s good to remind readers once in a while): I worked at Microsoft France from ’96 to ’99 and I’m still a shareholder.
03/27/02 update: follow-up from a Microsoftie and SharePoint user.