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SharePoint Server Gets Spotlight at Microsoft CEO Summit

In a post-keynote press conference with Microsoft executives and Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani, Microsoft pushed its vision for the next version of SharePoint Server, scheduled to ship to business customers in October.

SharePoint Server 2007 will focus on solving what Microsoft calls the "last mile problem" of business productivity, by providing flexible search of both structured and unstructured data. The effort is aimed at unlocking the vast stores of knowledge untapped by most enterprises, said Kevin Johnson, co-president of the Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft.

"Studies have shown that as much as 80 percent of data and information is stored on the individual's PCs within their business. And the fact that often times 50 to 75 percent of information is actually held by one of the subject matter experts within the company," Johnson said.

Microsoft at the event announced its Windows Live Search client product, which will be integrated into SharePoint Server. The announced search feature is not to be confused with the Web-based Windows Live Search, which can be found at www.live.com. Microsoft says it intends to rename the client search near the time of the SharePoint Server and Office system launch, in October.

The new search functionality will be at the core of SharePoint Server's knowledge sharing capability.

"It provides a single point, an end-to-end solution, for the information worker to find information rapidly, whether that information is on PCs, whether it's on SharePoint sites, whether it's on the Internet, whether it's in structured data such as line of business applications, or whether it is on the Web," says Johnson. "So they can find info, turn it into usable content, and share it with others."

Microsoft is also extending the concept of social networks to the enterprise, using the Windows Live Search client to let people seek out co-workers by areas of expertise, role in the organization, and other open-ended criteria. Call it MySpace for the suit-and-tie set.

SharePoint Server will automate the process by crawling data related to employees -- including e-mail inboxes, contact lists and instant messenger contact lists. The process enables the software to assign properties to each profile, as well as to associated employees with others across the network. Employees can then edit their profiles and select the information they want to present.

Infosys' Nilekani says that more flexible data systems are enabling the effort. "XML search capabilities and metadata definitions are giving us the ability to really get much better access to data and content that is not in a Microsoft platform," Nilekani said.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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