The new version of office 12 WSS is at the core of all the developments based around the office server range. What is meant by office servers is currently unsure and as for marketing and matching and costs there is no information but the design model is WSS at the core with various office servers being based on top of this, search, content management, business processes, portal, CMS.
To give you a clue as to how clueless people are about the marketing of the office servers I was told that SPS may not be shipped in that guise for the upgrade, its there as part of the design but you might not purchase it like that it may be that to achieve the goals required you may have to buy several parts of the solution or those parts will be marketed as something else, but I’m guessing here based on the woolly replies I received.
Its the core changes to WSS though that make everything possible.
WSS is built on top of ASP2.0 not built with built on. Before Sharepoint in its evilness took control of the default application and processed aspx pages itself unless it didn’t belong and exclusions had to be set. Now it doesn’t do that. ASP2 controls aspx pages for apps and Sharepoint plays nice. Any content for Sharepoint is passed to Sharepoint not intercepted by it.
WSS is designed to be a platform for building, out of the box come blogs and wiki, blog support should not be a surprise as now content from WSS can be surfaced as an RSS feed. Any list you have or doc lib or all of the site can be published as an RSS feed.
What look particularly good but I need confirming was that Office 12 outlook has RSS built in and RSS feeds from a doc lib will auto update and a click on the doc opens it in office so a save auto updates it back to the doc repository. The usual WSS alerts will also come into force, and perhaps the RSS properties will change and also indicate modifications (not seen this but this is standard RSS reader behavior so I expect this). What this actually means is offline document storage via outlook.
There is support for user controls with ascx, infact some new capabilities require ascx’s
There is support for resources for globalization.
Web parts are fully backwards compatible. Although considering what I did to them seeing is believing. ASP2.0 has the idea of a web part for web part pages, this is not specifically a Sharepoint thing but a 2.0 thing and these same web parts can be deployed into Sharepoint. Were you would inherit from the Sharepoint base class though is when you want access to specific web part caching.
There are a host of controls that can be used in web parts like the SPGridview this is a funk grid that does sorting automatically etc.
There is an SPSiteDataQuery that can query across lists. an auditing model so hits against items are stored, this can also be queried and displayed.
WSS now utilizes master pages so areas can pick a master page (like asp master pages) even after site creation and change the branding of a site. However the default.aspx page still exists in the area templates and the web part zone layout lives there, this makes sense as you wouldn’t want to lose zones on a quick change of design.
More features like workflow, special content types and features are the really cool parts that all other things seem to stem from.