Microsoft Enterprise Search
Microsoft announced Windows Desktop Search (WDS) for Enterprises today at IT Forum. In a nutshell, it provides the same functionality that WDS does today with the management tools for IT Pros to deploy this across an enterprise. It's part of Microsoft's vision for Enterprise Search - allowing people to find the information they need while they work. You can find more information at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/desktopsearch/enterprise/default.mspx.
WDS integrates with SPS 2003 for enterprise search quite nicely! Information workers can create a shortcut to launch a browser and display the SPS search results. You can also create a button that does something similar and use group policies to deploy it on the different desktops. :-) I use WDS every day... quite frankly, it's saved me a lot of time personally.
What's quite interesting, and something you probably won't see in press releases, is that WDS and SPS share the same common full-text search engine. This is especially useful for a couple reasons: 1) we're working together and with MSR to really fine tune the engine for Enterprise Search (vs. Internet search) and 2) WDS and SPS share a common extensibility model. That is to say, specifically, if you develop an iFilter or Protocol Handler, you can deploy this on WDS and/or SPS 2003.... the good news is that the next evolution of desktop search AND portal search will respect iFilters and Protocol Handlers you develop today.
As for the next version of search functionality in SPS 2003 - it's in the Office "12" timeframe. We're focusing on relevancy, user experience, searching across structured and unstructured repositories, manageability and scalability. Needless to say, relevancy is right at the top - a lot of focus has been on Enterprise Search algorithms.. and we've noticed through a lot of research that what works on the Internet, isn't ideal for the Enterprise. I'll write more about this later... keep your eyes open for Enterprise Search in Office "12" when the public beta comes out Spring 2006. You will be very pleasantly surprised!
So if you're a customer looking at search -- you really need to think about desktop, enterprise/intranet and internet search... most importantly, you have to keep in mind that internet search != enterprise search. While it will work, it's not going to give you the best results... plus things like security trimming, unlocking information from lob systems, searching unstructured content, et cetera, are must-haves today.
I almost forgot... everything I mentioned here is very much Office "12" server focused... but it's very important mentioning search is pervasive through Office "12". Outlook12 has powerful search capabilities as do the other Office applications... again, using the same common full-text search engine as WDS and SPS 2003. :-)
Some good stuff coming from Microsoft in the Enterprise Search space... stay tuned! For those of you at IT Forum, I'll cover a little bit of SharePoint Search investments in my session tomorrow and David Dawson, Group Manager for WDS, is presenting a deep-dive on WDS tomorrow and a repeat on Thursday. I highly recommend attending both sessions if search is of interest to you... :-)