The Pitch SharePoint\n came about as an effort to bring Microsoft Offices usability to tools for electronic collaboration. Jeff Teper, the Microsoft vice president in charge of SharePoint development, says the company saw an opportunity with users who wanted to share their files but didnt need a heavyweight content management system such as EMCs Documentum. SharePoint 2010 integrates Microsofts PerformancePoint business intelligence tools and its advanced search engine, called Fast, as well as strengthens SharePoint as a development platform.\nThese enhancements aim to make SharePoint more appealing for enterprise deployment\u2014a reflection of how customers' use of it is evolving. However, observes Tony Byrne, head of the analysis firm The Real Story Group, Microsoft walks a fine line between touting SharePoint's capabilities and deferring to partners who also provide content and business process management systems.The catchChances are you have SharePoint in your enterprise even if it\u2019s not part of your IT plan. It relieves an itch that, until recently, few CIOs knew needed scratching: Providing the rank-and-file with a tool for sharing documents instead of e-mailing them around to edit. Companies now use it for everything from intranets to document management. You can build a portal with SharePoint and have users set up their own Web pages and blogs.\n \n \n \n \u201cThe beauty of SharePoint is that it is pretty easy to use out of the box,\u201d says Laura Cruz, CIO at advertising agency CDM. Her company started using SharePoint to collaborate with clients, but found it handy enough to use for internal collaboration.\n \n Although it may look like the Swiss Army knife of software, SharePoint has limitations, says Forrester Principal Analyst John Rymer. Customizing SharePoint to add functionality can pose problems, he says, when it\u2019s time to upgrade.\n \n SharePoint also may not support certain industry standards. For example, Teper touts SharePoint\u2019s records-management capabilities\u2014its ability to save documents for legal or historic reasons. But analysts note that if you follow complex regulatory requirements for record keeping (think HIPAA or SEC rules), you may be better off with an industry-focused solution.\n The scoreMicrosoft may tout SharePoint\u2019s myriad features, but if you don\u2019t find what you need out of the box, a third-party solution might be your best bet, says Byrne. Microsoft recognizes the value of its partner network: For every dollar customers spend on Microsoft enterprise licensing fees, they spend $8 with consultants and channel vendors customizing Microsoft\u2019s tools or integrating other products.\n \n \n \n Ultimately, Microsoft sees itself as a platform company, providing generic capabilities, says Birger Steen, a Microsoft vice president in charge of sales to small and midsize businesses. If you\u2019re not sure whether SharePoint is the appropriate tool for what you want to do, he says, ask yourself whether the application is something that might be replicated at any company, or whether the functionality you want is specific to your industry or job function.\n \n With these cautions in mind, however, analysts conclude SharePoint is well worth exploring as an easy-to-use and flexible collaboration platform.\n \nThe company: Microsoft\nHeadquarters: Redmond, Wash.\nEmployees: 88,214\n2009 Revenue: $58.4 billion\nCEO: Steve Ballmer\nWhat They Do: Microsoft dominates the desktop operating systems market and has a healthy share of other business software and consumer electronics categories. It also provides software for collaboration, business intelligence and customer-relationship management, and it plans to offer most of its software as a service.