Enabling Presence Information in SharePoint with Microsoft Communications Server 2010

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SharePoint 2010 Products and Technologies give organizations unprecedented document management capabilities, allowing knowledge workers to collaborate more efficiently and share ideas more freely. In addition to its robust document management capabilities, SharePoint 2010 allows organizations to integrate with a presence management platform to help users of the platform to easily tell whether the author of a document is online and available, allowing for instant collaboration with that individual.

SharePoint integrates with this type of online presence information if used in collaboration with Microsoft’s presence platform, Communications Server 2010 and its predecessors, Office Communications Server 2007 R2 and Live Communications Server 2005. Using one of these platforms, SharePoint users can more easily collaborate with knowledge workers real-time, using an instant messaging client such as the Communicator 2010 product.

Configuring Presence Within SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 allows for the ability to readily determine the online status of fellow co-workers and other members of a SharePoint site through the concept of online presence information, displayed to the user through a construct known as a smart tag next to the user’s name.

The color of the smart tag enables a user to quickly identify if the user is available (green), busy (yellow), or not available (blank). Right-clicking these smart tags allows for a sequence of options to be displayed, such as sending an email to the user or instant messaging with them directly. This makes it easier for users to collaborate with the owners of documents, allowing for quick and easy communications.

Enabling and using presence information within a SharePoint environment requires presence to be enabled on the web application within SharePoint, and also requires the correct version of instant messaging software on the client. In addition, for enterprise instant messaging functionality, an enterprise IM solution such as Communications Server 2010 is recommended.

Enabling Presence Information on a Web Application

Online presence information is enabled by default on a SharePoint web application. In certain circumstances, however, it may be necessary to disable online presence information for troubleshooting. It is subsequently important to understand where in the SharePoint administrative hierarchy the presence information is stored and how it can be turned on and off.

To toggle online presence on or off an individual web application, do the following:

From the SharePoint Central Administration tool on a SharePoint server, navigate to the Application Management link in the navigation bar.

Under Web Applications, click the Manage Web Applications link.

Choose the web application to toggle the settings on, and then choose General Settings, General Settings.

From the General Settings page, shown in Figure 1, select either Yes or No under the Enable Additional Actions and Online Status for members, depending on whether you want to turn presence on or off.

Figure 1. Toggling presence settings on a web application.

Click OK to save the changes.


Online presence info can only be turned either on or off for the entire web application. It is not possible to toggle the setting for any subcomponent of a web application.

Examining Presence Functionality within a SharePoint Site Collection

By default, any time a user’s name appears within an Office 2010 application such as SharePoint, Exchange, Word, Excel, and so on, online presence information appears next to that user via the user’s smart tag. The status information must be fed to the application from an instant messaging client, however, or else the smart tag will not be able to display the status of the individual and will appear blank.

The following instant messaging clients are supported for viewing presence information in a SharePoint 2010 site:

  • Office Communicator 2007/2010

  • MSN Messenger/Windows Live Messenger version 4.6 or later

  • Microsoft Windows Messenger version 4.6 or later

By default, SharePoint 2010 will only show presence for users who are a member of the user’s contacts within the IM client. If a user is a contributor to a SharePoint site, but is not in contact list of another user, that user’s presence information will not be displayed by default. To display a user’s presence when he or she is not in the contact list of the other user, a centralized enterprise instant messaging platform must be used in conjunction with SharePoint 2010.

SharePoint 2010 supports both the Live Communications Server (LCS) 2005 server software, Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007, Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 R2, and Communications Server 2010 software to provide for this additional layer of presence information within a SharePoint site.

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