I've blogged about the efforts of some companies to inject new life into their intranets by adding user-friendly Web 2.0 tools such as wikis and RSS feeds. One company, Serena Software, even took the dramatic step of replacing its intranet with a private Facebook group for its employees.
While I was intrigued by the Serena example, I wasn't sure that Facebook offered enough of the features desired by many business users, such as document sharing and project tracking.
So I was quite pleased to see an entry on The Paisano blog that describes how to create an internal social network or collaborative intranet using free tools from Microsoft -- a company not often associated with "free."
Cost concerns lead many SMBs to avoid Microsoft's Office SharePoint Server (MOSS). Most folks aren't aware there is a simple and free alternative in Windows SharePoint Services (WSS), which employs the Microsoft SQL Express 2005 database, says The Paisano. While it doesn't have all of the bells-and-whistles found in the SharePoint Server/SQL Server combination, it offers more than enough functionality for many SMBs.
The Paisano lays out the differences between MOSS and WSS and spotlights what he considers the strongest features of WSS. A big bonus of this approach, he notes, is the ease of migrating from WSS to MOSS if and when more functionality is desired.
He provides lots of links that offer detailed directions on how to install the desired features, including some with video.