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November 30, 2006

Vista, Office, and Exchange Launched

Posted by David Hunter at 11:44 AM ET.

Microsoft today staged a rolling launch of Windows Vista, Office 2007, Exchange 2007 , and associated products starting in Sydney, Australia and wrapping around the world through Asia and Europe to Steve Ballmer in New York who is still speaking as I write. The launch event so far has been as devoid of excitement as expected, but the important thing is that Microsoft at long last got Vista out the door.

Update: For the sake of completeness, according to the press release linked above, the full set of products launched today was:

Products Released

An * below indicates the product is available now.

Client upgrades
• Windows Vista Business *
• Office Professional 2007 *
• Office Project Professional 2007 *
• Office Visio Professional 2007 *
• Office InfoPath 2007 *
• Office OneNote 2007 *
• Office Communicator 2007

Client enterprise editions
• Windows Vista Enterprise *
• Office Enterprise 2007 *

Server upgrades
• Exchange Server 2007 *
• Office SharePoint Server 2007*
• Office Project Server 2007 *
• Forefront Security for Exchange Server *
• Forefront Security for SharePoint *
• System Center Configuration Manager 2007

Server Enterprise editions
• Windows Rights Management Services *
• System Center Operations Manager Enterprise 2007
• Unified Messaging Services for Exchange *
• Excel and Forms Services for SharePoint *

New products
• Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance
• Office Project Portfolio Server 2007 *
• Office Forms Server 2007 *
• Office SharePoint Designer 2007*
• Office Communications Server 2007
• “Voice Call Management” for Office Communication Server 2007
• Office PerformancePoint Server 2007
• Forefront Client Security
• Office Sharepoint Server for Search 2007 *
• SQL Server 2005 Data Mining Add-ins for Office 2007
• System Center “Desktop”
• Office Groove Server 2007*
• Office Groove 2007 *
• Exchange Hosted Services*

Filed under Configuration Manager, Exchange, Executives, Forefront, Forms Server, Groove, Groove Server, Hosted Services, InfoPath, Microsoft, OS - Client, OS - Server, Office, Office 2007, Office Communications Server, OneNote, Operations Manager, PerformancePoint Server, Project, Project Portfolio Server, Project Server, Servers, SharePoint Designer, SharePoint Server, SharePoint Server for Search, Steve Ballmer, Visio, Windows Rights Management Services, Windows Vista

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September 19, 2006

Microsoft experiments with faceted search

Posted by David Hunter at 11:33 PM ET.

If Microsoft is ever to get out of 3rd place in Web search behind Google and Yahoo they are going to have to do something different. One of the cards they plan to play is an investment in improved search technologies and while there were some on display when Windows Live Search launched last week, it looks like there’s another one up their sleeve – faceted search. Paula J. Hane at Information Today:

Last week, Microsoft announced a major upgrade to the new search engine it has been testing since March. It has moved its Windows Live Search and out of beta status and said that Live Search will power the search capability on MSN, the company’s news and entertainment portal. A new feature is the Related Search function, which is designed to help users refine a query by simply clicking on a list of related terms. The unusually low-key and minimalist press announcement generated little excitement. After some poking around, Information Today, Inc. learned from search expert Stephen E. Arnold that Microsoft has even more potent technology ready to deploy.

Unlike the upgrade to, which, according to a Microsoft spokesperson, just uses algorithms that mine previously submitted queries to the engine, the new and unannounced search system brings faceted search to a Microsoft application. Try it yourself at The Microsoft project, called Search Results Clustering (SRC), currently offers a search beta and downloadable toolbar.

What Microsoft is doing is called text mining. This is jargon for discovering people, places, things, and other facts from text. These facts are then organized so a user can point and click on a category and see the related information. The approach is the secret sauce for such companies as Exalead in Paris and Endeca in Boston.

Arnold, who is the author of Enterprise Search Report, 3rd edition, and the forthcoming Text Mining Report, said: “If Microsoft makes this function part of SharePoint, it will pose a serious threat to companies offering SharePoint-specific search enhancements and be a strong competitive challenge to Google and its Appliance and OneBox API. If Microsoft puts this technology in, that service will almost certainly see an increase in traffic. Microsoft had to do something, and this Vivisimo-like clustering may be one of Microsoft’s most significant advances yet.”

There’s much more by following the link, but the project is from Microsoft Research Asia’s Search Technology Center which was established in October, 2005 and is apparently yet another Microsoft organization working on search technology.

As for faceted search itself, the basic idea is to not only provide search results for the specific term provided by the user, but also for various “facets” of the specific term. An example would be if the user searched for “boots,” facets might be “fashion,” “western,” or “mens” which further segment the search space. The user then could click on the facet of interest which would have more facets.

The real trick, of course, is to discover meaningful facets for arbitrary search terms and the Microsoft project performs it via on-the-fly cluster analysis of the results of the original search term. Hit the link in the quote above and kick the tires for yourself.

Filed under Coopetition, Faceted search, Google, Live Search, MSN, MSN Search, Microsoft, Microsoft Research, Office, SharePoint Server for Search, Technologies, Windows Live, Yahoo

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May 17, 2006

Microsoft reveals enterprise search solutions

Posted by David Hunter at 8:28 PM ET.

Press release:

At the 10th annual Microsoft CEO Summit here this week, company executives will describe efforts to create unified enterprise information management solutions that integrate new capabilities into the software programs people already know and use. Microsoft’s investments in new enterprise search solutions will help people create, find, use and share information. For example, new capabilities in Windows Live Search will provide a single point of entry and user interface to unify multiple search solutions. In addition, enhancements to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 will enable people to quickly connect with other people or subject matter experts and will add options that make search capabilities available to customers that might not be able to implement a full collaboration or portal solution.

Yes, it’s called Windows Live Search, but it’s not Microsoft’s Google competitor that we know and love – it’s for enterprises:

To that end, the company will deliver a solution called Windows Live Search, which offers a single user interface (UI) to help people find and use all the information they care about from across the entire enterprise and beyond. It essentially binds together previously separate search solutions including Windows Desktop Search, Intranet search provided by Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Internet search via Windows Live Search, among others. Any information available to any of these systems can be exposed in one place, instantly showing relevant and actionable search results from all its enterprise data sources, from the desktop and from the Web.

But apparently there was a name shortage so they had to reuse “Windows Live Search.”

As for the SharePoint enhancement:

As a response to customer feedback from the 2007 Microsoft Office system beta, Microsoft will also introduce a new server offering called Microsoft Office SharePoint Server for Search 2007. A subset of the complete Office SharePoint Server 2007, SharePoint Server for Search will provide mid-market and departmental enterprise customers with core search capabilities. Depending on a customer’s needs, it can either crawl content in common data repositories – such as file shares, Web sites and servers – or be extended to search other repositories using third-party or custom-built connectors.

Some search enhancements to current Microsoft products are also listed in the release.

Filed under Microsoft, Office, SharePoint Server for Search, Windows Live, Windows Live Search Center

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