I’m using the following table in the Enterprise Search workshops I am currently delivering on behalf of Microsoft. People seem to be finding it useful so I thought I’d post it here. It is an expanded version of the table you can find on Microsoft’s web site (see end of post for link). The table is not a comprehensive list of all features and aims to highlight the differences between each product from a search perspective. (SharePoint Server 2007 has additional features not listed here.)

(Click to view)

Windows SharePoint Services and Search Server 2008 Express have identical licensing requirements. They can only be installed on Windows Server 2003 SP1+ or later. That means you will need a Windows Server license but nothing more. If you perform a basic installation of either, you get the database included with the Windows license – MSDE for Windows SharePoint Services, SQL Server 2005 Express Edition for Search Server 2008 Express. If you perform an advanced installation of either, you can opt to use the full SQL Server product instead.

(Tip: You can also use SQL Server 2005 Express Edition with Windows SharePoint Services, but you have to download and install it first, and then use the Advanced Installation to tell Windows SharePoint Services to use it – SQL Server 2005 Express Edition was released after Windows SharePoint Services and has replaced MSDE.)

Search Server 2008 licensing has not yet been announced by Microsoft. Given it is effectively a subset of SharePoint Server 2007, I’d guess it will be a per-server license but we’ll have to wait and see.

SharePoint Server 2007 requires a per-server license and per-client access licences (CALs) for internal use. There are two versions – Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition.

Search Server 2008 is due to be released during the first half of 2008. The new features being introduced (you can download the release candidate if you want to play with them) will also be made available to both editions of SharePoint Server 2007.

If the FAST acquisition does go ahead, expect to see Microsoft’s search strategy expand deeper into enterprise information assets.

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