Microsoft's first portal application was called Digital Dashboard. This product introduced the concept of Web parts — boxes of information on a page that represented a summary or overview of information. (Other vendors referred to these items as "portlets.") By assembling multiple parts on a page, each user could customize his view of the portal to contain the information that pertained to them. In theory, every visitor of the site could have different content at the same URL. However, the technology behind the Digital Dashboard was not up to the task, and it never made it out of the beta stage.
At the same time, Microsoft's Office group was working toward a collaboration solution. The need for many people to contribute to a single document or worksheet was growing. And, these people were not necessarily working at the same location. The result was SharePoint Team Services (STS), a Web-based solution that allowed shared access to information and documents. STS also allowed end-users to make changes to the site via a Web browser instead of requiring a development-oriented application.
The merging of the collaboration and aggregation functions lead to SharePoint Portal Server 2001. Portal Server has been upgraded to run on the .Net framework and is now referred to as SharePoint Products and Technologies. The "Product" is SharePoint Portal Server 2003 (SPS) and the "Technologies" are Windows SharePoint Services (WSS). A significant point about these two is that WSS is included with the Windows Server 2003 license. Any organization that is licensed for Windows Server 2003 can also host Websites that are based on WSS.