Plan visual upgrade (SharePoint Foundation 2010)

SharePoint 2010

Applies to: SharePoint Foundation 2010

Topic Last Modified: 2011-09-15

This article discusses the new visual upgrade feature in Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010. If your organization plans to perform an upgrade of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, you can take advantage of this new feature. By default, the look and feel of sites is preserved during an upgrade from Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. Site owners can switch to the new user interface permanently, or they can choose to preview the new user interface for their SharePoint sites. By using the visual upgrade feature, you can choose to move all sites to the new user interface. If you select the latter option, you override the user interface for site collection owners and site owners. You can also choose to either preserve customized pages or you can choose to reset all customized pages. Both choices will update the look and feel of template pages, but the latter option deletes modifications from customized pages and cannot be undone.

The visual upgrade feature is not available if you are performing an upgrade on a single server with built-in database through the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard. However, the visual upgrade feature is still available if you use the PSConfig command-line tool for upgrade.

This article lists key considerations for planning to use visual upgrade, and it also discusses known issues. For more information, see Manage visual upgrade (SharePoint Foundation 2010).

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Visual upgrade is a feature that is part of the upgrade process. Before you perform the upgrade, ensure that you know about the effects of choosing between the two different options visual upgrade has to offer.

If you choose to preserve the look and feel of existing SharePoint sites, you give site collection owners control over their site collections and site owners control over their sites. All the data and settings from the original sites are preserved, and layout, command organization, and styles preserve the previous user interface. Regardless of the type of farm upgrade that you select, you receive all the infrastructure benefits of Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 including improved reliability, scalability, and manageability. Preserving the previous user interface reduces the likelihood that customized content will cease to function. This ensures that you and the users can continue to use existing SharePoint sites until all upgrade work, including troubleshooting and updating customizations, has been completed.

If you choose to change all the existing SharePoint sites to the new user interface, site collection owners and site owners have no control over the upgrade. All the data and settings from the existing SharePoint sites are upgraded to the new user interface. You might want to choose this option if there are no customizations or if you have tested any customizations that you need before the upgrade. Even if you choose this option, you still have the option of either preserving customized pages or resetting customized pages. If you need to keep customizations, or if you are unsure whether to keep customizations, you should choose to preserve customized pages. Resetting the customized pages removes customizations and cannot be undone. Choose this option if you do not need the customizations any longer and if you know that no important data will be lost. For more information, see Determine how to handle customizations (SharePoint Foundation 2010), Use a trial upgrade to find potential issues (SharePoint Foundation 2010), and Redeploying Customizations and Solutions in SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 (

It is important that you train users about the effects of either preserving the look and feel of existing SharePoint sites or upgrading all sites to the new user interface. Educated users are prepared and know what to expect, which will minimize helpdesk support and frustrations.

If you upgrade all sites to the new user interface, inform users about changes and new features, such as the ribbon, the new page editing interface, and interactive calendars. Also, let them know about possible issues that they can expect. For instance, they might have issues with customizations, such as pages not displaying correctly. For information about general upgrade issues, see Troubleshoot upgrade issues (SharePoint Foundation 2010).

If you choose to preserve the look and feel of existing SharePoint sites, explain to site collection owners and site owners that the user interface will not change during upgrade, and tell them about the choices they can make.

By default, site owners have control over their sites. They can use the Preview New Visuals option (under Site Settings) to preview the new user interface and then switch between the previous and new user interface. This gives them time to ensure that everything works correctly, and they can fix any issues with their pages that appeared after upgrade. When site owners are ready, they can update their sites to the new user interface. However, site collection owners can choose to finalize the new user interface, which overrides the control that site owners have over visual upgrade for their sites. If site collection owners want to keep the previous user interface for their site collection, they also have an option to hide visual upgrade settings from site owners.

Site owners also need to know that if they make changes in the new user interface while they are in preview mode and then switch back to the previous user interface, this information may not display correctly.

We recommend that you have a plan and set a time limit for how long the previous user interface should be used in your SharePoint deployment. For example, each site collection administrator may be given 90 days to work with his or her site owners to transition from the previous to the new user interface. This time limit ensures that users are given a reasonable time to become familiar with the new user interface and to resolve any issues that might have occurred during the upgrade. Ensure that you communicate the time limit to the users, and that they know you can force through an upgrade of all sites. Also, you can view the current status of the user interface of upgraded sites to monitor the progress of these sites. For more information, see Manage visual upgrade (SharePoint Foundation 2010).

If site collection owners decide to use the new user interface for all sites within their site collection, they cannot change their minds. However, as a farm administrator, you can change these settings by reverting sites to the previous user interface with Windows PowerShell or SharePoint Object Model. For more information, see Manage visual upgrade (SharePoint Foundation 2010).

It is important to tell site collection owners and site owners that as long as sites use the previous user interface, new features—such as the ribbon, in-place editing for Wiki pages, interactive calendars, and list relationships—will not be available. However, once sites switch to the new user interface, application features automatically appear. Also, it is important to note that all new sites created after the upgrade use the new user interface by default.

There are a few known issues to consider:

  • If you use SharePoint Foundation 2010, ensure that you use the same version and service pack of SharePoint Designer.