Microsoft to upgrade SharePoint when Office 14 ships

Microsoft will integrate enterprise search technology acquired from Fast Search and Transfer into its SharePoint content management platform

Microsoft said Tuesday that it plans to formally integrate enterprise search technology from its US$1.2 billion acquisition of Fast Search and Transfer (FAST) a year ago into its popular SharePoint content management platform.

However, the long-anticipated new product, called FAST Search for SharePoint, won't ship until the next version of Microsoft Office, codenamed Office 14, does, said Jared Andersen, a senior product manager for enterprise search at Microsoft.

Andersen declined to say when Office 14 would ship. Some experts expect Office 14 to ship next year.

FAST Search for SharePoint will be aimed at enterprises and designed to work "out of the box" with large SharePoint document repositories, said Andersen.

Scalability is one of the FAST software's strongest traits. When Microsoft bought Oslo, Norway-based FAST last January, it bragged that it would become the only vendor to offer a unified enterprise search platform capable of sorting and searching through billions of documents.

By comparison, the existing search features in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) have trouble handling repositories with more than 50 million documents, Ovum analyst Madan Sheina wrote last month.

The new FAST Search for SharePoint will also bring "more advanced linguistic capabilities" and "more powerful processing" of both structured and unstructured content, Microsoft's Andersen said.

Betas for FAST Search will arrive "very much in line with Office 14's betas," he said. Customers will need to buy SharePoint Enterprise Client Access Licenses (CALs) in order to get the software.

In the meantime, customers who want such features now can license another new product, ESP for SharePoint.

ESP is based on FAST technology but is not specially-rewritten for SharePoint, Andersen said. Customers who buy ESP today will be able to upgrade to FAST Search for SharePoint.

Microsoft made the announcement during its FASTforward enterprise search conference, which is taking place through Wednesday.

John Lervik, corporate vice-president of Microsoft Enterprise Search and former CEO of FAST, left Microsoft last month.

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