OK, so the cat is out the box... Microsoft just released the RC (Release Candidate - RTM is expected for march 2008) of Search Server 2008. So what is it? It actually is a rebranded and updated version of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server for Search. There are two versions Search Server 2008 Express which is completely free and Search Server. Hereunder what I picked up from the Search Server TechEd session.
The product features are actually the same as those of MOSS (Standard Edition ...) but you will get a little bit extra (new features marked in bold):
- Search Center interface
- Customizable search experience through the use of Search webparts
- Best Bets support and hit Highlighting
- Crawl rules and search proxy settings
- Search thesaurus support for synonyms and noise words
- Indexing and crawl support of different types of content sources such as SharePoint, web sites, file shares, Exchange public folders, Notes databases, ... These are the out of the box content sources you can get at extra content sources if you install extra protocol handlers.
- IFilter support which allow you to crawl different types of files. SharePoint ships with a number of iFilters out of the box for Office files, XML, HTML, Text files, etc ... If you need to crawl other types of content you can install extra iFilters (such as the free PDF iFilter)
- Search Connectors for Federated Search using the Open Search standard
- Ships with out-of-the box search connectors for FileNet and Documentum (free)
- Federated Search web parts
- Can be installed on top of WSS 3.0 to extend the search experience
- An easier installation process, they actually have a prerequisites checker tool which does some of the work for you ... :-).
Basically when you install Search Server you have two installation options:
- Basic install - this will install SQL Server Express and use this as a back end database. Since there is a size limit (4 GB) on SQL Server Express you will be limited to more or less 400.000 documents.
- Advanced install - this will allow you to use a back-end SQL Server. This option is both available for Search Server and Search Server Express.
So what happens if you install Search Server on a blank server? It will basically install WSS 3.0 and on top of that it will add the Search Server functionality.
So what is the difference between the Express edition and the full version. Both versions share the same search engine and the same functionality. There is however one major difference. Search Server Express is only possible in a single server install - so it will not scale out.
So what is the story with existing WSS 3.0 or MOSS installations:
- If you install it on WSS 3.0, it will extend it which will allow you to search across sites.
- You can NOT install it on MOSS for the moment. There will be an update for MOSS post Service Pack 1 which will give you the Federated Search capability.
- MOSS SP1 release (no date available yet)
- MSS RTM (probably march 2008)
- Federation Patch for MOSS
A interesting summary is found in this great Search comparison table from Pierre his site (French only) - here under the translation:
Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express (MSSX 2008)
Windows 2003 Server
SQL Server 2005 Express or SQL Server 2005
No limit on the number of documents (except for the limit of the database)
Single server support only
Microsoft Search Server 2008
Windows 2003 Server
SQL Server 2005 (or SQL Server 2000 SP3a)
No limit on the number of documents
Multiple server/farm support
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007
Business Data Catalog (BDC) search
And now the most important thing - what is this Federated Search all about? Federated Search in Search Server uses Federated Search Connectors which allow you to pass search queries to a another system (such as Technorati, MSDN, Flickr, WikiPedia, your own custom applications or even Google :-) ) and accept and display results returned from that system. The display of results from these other search engines or applications are displayed alongside the local results. If you want to learn more take a look at http://www.microsoft.com/enterprisesearch/connectors/federated.aspx - here you can download sample Federated Search connectors (you package the settings in a file with extension FLD).
I will probably play around with this during the weekend ... so more news to follow.