With Google Inc in its cross-hairs, Microsoft Corp has rolled out an enterprise version of its free Windows Desktop Search product at its IT Forum which it says will make it easy for IT deploy and manage search across corporate networks.
The announcement did not dive into great detail. Dubbed by Microsoft as desktop search application, the software lets users scan for information on desktops, email systems and other shared network file systems.
As is now the norm with many Microsoft business intelligence and knowledge management product releases, the offering integrates with other applications like Office and SharePoint. It can also link to other third-party Windows-based applications.
The enterprise benefit for IT administrators is that they can now manage access across Windows XP and 2000 environments. One of the biggest challenges for enterprise search is security and rights management.
Windows Desktop Search can also be extended using MSN to search across the internet as well, said Microsoft officials.
Wary of Google’s strategy of giving out free software, Microsoft is bundling the enterprise search capability as part of the purchase cost of a Windows license. It is managed from Microsoft’s System Management Server.
The announcement follows a move by Microsoft earlier this year to beef-up its MSN Search Toolbar with the free version of Windows Desktop Search. It has also made this application a separately downloadable product without the toolbar. Microsoft’s new enterprise product builds on this product, effectively adding wide-scale deployment and management capabilities.
Microsoft also says it the beta testing a new feature in MSN Search Toolbar that gives users the ability to access Windows Desktop Search results from Outlook applications as well.
Microsoft is billing the release of an enterprise-enabled Windows Desktop Search is the first major product deliverable of its new Windows Live software-based services model.
But users shouldn’t read too much into this marketing moniker. It’s partly a direct response to competitors like Yahoo! And Google that already offer free desktop search tools.