Microsoft Search 365: Just Wonderful Wonderful

June 22, 2020

Analyses of Microsoft’s long romance with enterprise search forget some bad dates. There was the era of dozens of search systems; each unit at Softie HQ knew how to make information findable. Remember Outlook Express? Then there were acquisitions. What about that search system in NCompass? How about that earth shaker Powerset? Yeah, I thought you would remember the spilled chocolate shakes, the slapped hands, and the angry parents.

What about Fast Search & Transfer? Quite a buy in 2008! So what if the Fast senior management had to dodge legal eagles for a few years? Does anyone recall the refusal of some customers of the Fast ESP refusing to pay their bills? The financial fancy dancing. No, why bother.

I could go on, but I won’t. The write up “Microsoft Search in Microsoft 365: A Valuable Enterprise Search Engine” does not bring up the past. Nobody cares. Enterprise search is a joke. No one in his or her right mind wants a company search engine to wander hither and yon to find semi relevant information. Those using enterprise search — remember, it’s a myth, gentle reader — want to locate the PowerPoint the crazy sales manager changed for yesterday’s presentation in Reno. Where is it? Well, it sure isn’t in an enterprise search system. What’s in the enterprise search system is the angry email from the customer in the presentation audience who heard the sales wizard reveal the actual pricing of the deal. That customer wants the sales manager’s head, not a list of search results. And you, gentle reader, are trying to find the presentation in the Enterprise 365 whatever. Well, good luck with that.

The write up asserts:

Before a user can use Microsoft Search, they must be logged into Microsoft 365. Once logged in, the user needs only to open their browser, go to Bing.com, and enter the search query. Upon doing so, Bing will return both public and private search results.

There you go, JEDI fans. There’s nothing like snagging a laptop and having access to a search system that displays the user’s view of an organization’s data. That access control works like a champ just like Microsoft’s Windows 10 updates.

Plus you get links to lots of stuff. Particularly useful is “All” which presents any oddball hit that the system knows is that PowerPoint which has not been indexed and is therefore unfindable unless you meet the sales wizard at the airport.

Are there flaws in the 365 search? Sure there are. The author identifies one the size of a pre extinction brontosaurus:

In my opinion, the most significant limitation associated with using Microsoft Search is that the search engine does not index your file servers. It assumes that most of your file data reside in SharePoint Online. The only way that Microsoft Search can index files stored on-premises is if you have a hybrid SharePoint deployment and the files that you want to index are stored within SharePoint.

Yeah, but what about that “all”? Seems like a logical fallacy, doesn’t it. All with notable omissions. Oh, well, home economics courses don’t spend much time of stuff like logic. Chopped onions, yes? Logical Grand Canyons? Nah.

Net net: Microsoft has been lost in search space for decades. Will the company deliver a system that mostly works? Hey, the purpose of enterprise search at Microsoft is the generation of work for Microsoft Certified Professionals. Those experts don’t need something to work to subscribe to a Porsche. That means Microsoft’s enterprise search mirrors the enterprise search industry quite well, thank you.

Stephen E Arnold, June 22, 2020

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