Microsoft Sinks Search Into Enterprise

Microsoft is getting down to business with an enterprise version of its Windows Desktop search, which provides corporate intranet searches through other Microsoft software including Office, SharePoint Portal Server and third-party enterprise applications.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said its enterprise-enabled Windows Desktop Search would allow workers to quickly and precisely find information from e-mail, shared files or other desktop-level resources.

Easing Deployment

The free software, available for download with a Windows License, takes the consumer version of Microsoft’s desktop search software and eases deployment and management of it across enterprise environments, Microsoft said.

Analysts indicated that, while corporate IT managers may be wary of additional search software, a unified, integrated solution is preferable to “rogue” search software that workers install individually.

“The reason desktop search is so popular is that people can’t find their stuff,” IDC analyst Sue Feldman told TechNewsWorld. “That being the case, if an IT manager has to choose between one search that works with applications, that has security permissions and rights wired in, versus rogue installations that users have installed themselves, they would probably go to one, organization-wide desktop search.”

Complete Experience

Microsoft follows on the heels of Google, which announced its own enterprise-enhanced desktop search software earlier this month. Microsoft said its desktop search for the enterprise was another step in its walk toward “a complete enterprise search experience,” touting search capability across the PC, intranet, corporate servers and Internet.

“Gaining rapid access to more relevant, up-to-date and action-oriented search results will enable information workers to make better, faster decisions,” said a statement from MSN Search Vice President Christopher Payne.

Microsoft also stressed the continuing integration advantages of its desktop search, which it said will work with Windows Live offerings in the future.

Search Security Risk

IDC’s Feldman said the different desktop search solutions from existing enterprise players — X1, Intellext, Isys, DT Search, Zylab, Copernic and others — and the newcomers such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, all do the same kinds of things.

While the consumer side has different needs and a different business model with advertising, enterprise search involves other issues, particularly around security. Feldman explained that having search queries go to servers outside the organization represents a significant threat.

“That means the possibility exists you could aggregate the queries,” she said, referring to the danger of exposing information or strategies to competitors or computer attackers.

Integration Edge

Maurene Caplan-Grey, founder and principal consultant of Grey Consulting, told TechNewsWorld that Microsoft’s corporate desktop search software had an inherent advantage because of its close integration with the prominent Windows environment.

“If you already have a Microsoft environment, the integration of desktop search — whether it’s good, the same or better — it is integrated into the different components of that Microsoft environment,” she said.

Grey added that third party products are going to have to work harder and market more to win customers, who will benefit if their strategy is to stay with Microsoft and the desktop search solution is deemed adequate.

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