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Microsoft Search Server (MSS) is an enterprise search platform from Microsoft, based on the search capabilities of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.[1] MSS shares its architectural underpinnings with the Windows Search platform for both the querying engine as well as the indexer. Microsoft Search Server was once known as SharePoint Server for Search.[2]

Microsoft Search Server has been made available as Search Server 2008, which has been released in the first half of 2008. A free version, Search Server Express 2008 is also available. The express edition will feature the same feature-set as the commercial edition, including no limitation on the number of files indexed; however, it is limited to a stand-alone installation and cannot be scaled out to a cluster.[3] A release candidate of Search Server Express 2008 was made available on November 7, 2007; it is scheduled to RTM in sync with Search Server 2008.


The Search Center UI showing the local search results with federated search results on the right

MSS presents a search center interface to present the UI for querying. The interface is available as a web application, accessed using a browser. The query can either be a simple query, or use advanced operators as defined by the AQS syntax. The matched files are listed along with a snippet from the file, with the search terms highlighted, sorted by relevance. The relevance determination algorithm has been developed by Microsoft Research and Windows Live Search.[4] MSS also shows definitions of the search terms, where applicable, as well as suggests corrections for misspelled terms. Duplicate results are collapsed together. Alerts can be set for specific queries, where the user is informed of changes to the results of a query via email or RSS.[5] The search center UI uses the ASP.NET web part infrastructure and can be customized using either Microsoft Visual Studio or Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer. Custom actions can be defined on a per-filetype basis as well.[4]

MSS can index any data source as long as a indexing connector for the data source is provided.[5] The indexing connector includes protocol handlers, metadata handlers and iFilters to enumerate the data items in the source and extract metadata from the items in the data source. If the file type in the source has a corresponding iFilter, then it is used to extract the text of the file for full text indexing as well. The handlers and iFilters MSS uses are the same as used by SharePoint, Microsoft SQL Server and Windows Search as well.[4] The data sources that are to be indexed are identified by their URIs and have to be configured prior to indexing. The indexer updates the search index as soon as an item is indexed (continuous propagation) so that the items can be queried against even before the indexing crawl is complete. MSS can also federate searches to other search services (including SharePoint and web search servers) that support the OpenSearch protocol.[5] Federated locations can be serialized to a .fld file.[4]

The administration UI, which is also presented as a web application, can be used to review statistics such as most frequent queries, top destination hits, click through rates etc, as well as fine tune relevancy settings[5], indexing policies (including inclusion and exclusion filters) and schedules, and set up a cluster of the servers.[4] It can also be used to back up either the configuration state or the search indices. ACLs can also be defined to limit the search result according to the rights of the user initiating the query.


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