Today Microsoft announced Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express, which brings the powerful search capabilities of SharePoint Server to the masses in a free (yes you read that right!) tool that can index SharePoint resources, file shares, and (with free connectors that will be released in 2008) EMC Documentum and IBM FileNet resources. There is also no limit to the number of documents that can be indexed. The only limit for this product is that it can be installed on only one server. Other servers in Microsoft's search products portfolio (e.g. MOSS 2007 and Search Server 2008) will take up the task for greater scalability.
So, they promise, IT admins in shops of any size will be able to go from download to search in less than 30 minutes, providing user-familiar Web search capabilities for enterprise resources--fully security-aware--for free. There's no more excuse for not implementing search in organizations! “Information workers waste as much as 9.5 hours each week on searches that don’t turn up the right information, which can add up to millions of dollars in lost productivity every year*,” said Kirk Koenigsbauer, general manager of the SharePoint Business Group at Microsoft. I'm sure their research is good, though 9.5 hours sounds a bit high to me... but even if it saves 10 minutes per week per employee, that's a LOT of time and money over the course of a year.
A beta is available for download and testing today at http://www.microsoft.com/enterprisesearch. I'll be interested to hear what you think about your experience with this great new solution!