Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) is a set of components and services that is considered part of the Windows Server 2003 operating system. All versions of WSS have been designed and created by the Office team to provide the core plumbing infrastructure required by other aspects of SPT. However, licensing and support for WSS is controlled by the Windows platform team, not the Office team. Once you have obtained your licenses to run Windows Server 2003, you already have what need to run WSS as well. The third and latest major version of WSS is currently scheduled to be released in the forth quarter of 2007 along with the 2007 Office System. This release goes by the name of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and is often abbreviated as either WSS 3.0 or WSS V3. The previous version of WSS which was released with the Office 2003 System originally did not carry a version number. However, the avoid confusion it should now be referred to as Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 or WSS V2. When progressive SharePoint developers talk about WSS without using a version number, they are talking about the latest and coolest version which today is WSS 3.0. At its core, WSS provides a site provisioning engine that allows companies to create and manage 100s or 1000s of Web sites in a highly-scalable Web farm environment. WSS is based on stateless Web servers and backend storage model based on SQL Server. WSS provides access to its sites through several popular types of browsers as well as through integration points with Microsoft Office desktop applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook.
To a developer, WSS should be seen as a full-fledged development platform that adds a significant amount of value on top of ASP.NET 2.0. It provides a means to build business solutions using building blocks such as .ASPX pages, ASP.NET controls, Web Parts, custom lists and document libraries, content types, event handlers, custom workflows, features and site definitions. While WSS is a development platform, it also ships with a set of out-of-the-box collaboration services. This makes it relatively painless for a company to quickly construct sites with things like contacts lists, task lists, schedules, document libraries and customized page views without requiring a developer to put everything together. WSS 3.0 enhances the out-of-the-box feature set with the addition of support for blogs, wikis and RSS.