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Microsoft Still Trying To Figure Out Search

We heard a story some time ago from someone -- we can't remember who -- about chatting with a friend who worked for Microsoft. The storyteller suggested that the Microsoft employee Google something, at which time the Redmond wage earner shot back, "Don't you mean Live Search it?"

Um, no. We don't. Because despite Microsoft's best efforts, Google is still synonymous with search, at least for consumers. But that other category of search -- enterprise search, or finding data that's tucked away in various corners of a company's IT infrastructure -- doesn't quite belong to Google yet.

That's where Microsoft might have an opportunity to stake a claim in search, and Redmond bolstered that effort this week with the announcement that it's integrating technology it acquired when it bought Fast Search & Transfer with the quite successful Microsoft Office SharePoint server.

The combination will yield a whole new server, actually, logically dubbed Fast Search for SharePoint, which will ship with Office 14. There are a couple of other new server options on the way, too, including a product for companies building e-commerce Web sites and a server for customers who want to use Fast's platform with SharePoint before Office 14 launches.

These new products could eventually be nice little earners for partners as SharePoint add-ons, and with SharePoint going great guns in the enterprise, channel players might as well cash in. For Microsoft, which is bound and determined to grab at least some of the search market somewhere, the new offerings represent an opportunity to use SharePoint's popularity and usefulness to grab search customers.

We don't expect hordes of users to start "Live Searching" anything, but inside the enterprise SharePoint could give Microsoft a search foothold. And that would be something.

Give us your take on Microsoft enterprise search at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on February 11, 2009 at 11:55 AM