Microsoft has announced their new enterprise search setup of server products, which include the Microsoft Search Server 2008 together with an Express version, that are free (currently a release candidate). This new server product is an evolution of the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for Search.
This is great news since the Search Server (MSS) has great possibilities to integrate to other search engines or data sources (something that you only could do with some heavy BDC programming using MOSS 2007 Enterprise Edition). MSS is based on Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and it can extend your WSS installations with better search, even cross-site which has been the major factor to upgrade to MOSS.
For small, and even medium, businesses this can have a huge impact, since they can now get great enterprise search for a minimum investment (MOSS 2007 for Search has a huge license cost, which I never can recommend anyone…).
The Express version is announced to be free, with the following restrictions; installation only on one server i.e. no load balancing and high availability. But I think most small or medium businesses can live with that, if you don’t - upgrade to the standard version of MSS 2008. I have not found any license information for the MSS or MSS Express yet, and I would really like to read the fine prints before cheering to loud…
The Search Server can be extended using Search Connectors and/or IFilters. Search Connectors is based on OpenSearch which returns results in RSS or Atom format, so integration will be fast and easy. It’s as easy as creating a Federated Location Definition File (.fld), which is an extended OpenSearch XML definition file and configure it in your MSS.
I would have preferred to use IFilter integration, but building IFilter in .Net is not supported yet (Microsoft - please give me that now…)