This was announced at the DevConnections event last night in Las Vegas. Basically they've rolled out the MOSS search in a free Express version and a Enterprise version. Check out the blog announcement and the product page.
This will drive businesses to install WSS 3.0 with the new Search Server 2008. It can map to many content sources and also create various Search Scopes. The intention is that if a business puts this in to search their existing repositories they may then go and use the other features of WSS 3.0 and then potentially move up to MOSS 2007.
I have had many clients on a small budget that I have had to talk to about MOSS because the search features they want just weren't up to scratch in the base install of WSS 3.0. Now with Search Server 2008 I can lead them down this path which will be cheaper to start with. Tim W concurs with this.
I can see this being sold a lot where people have the big Document/Records Management products but don't necessarily want to pay the big bucks for Enterprise Search or are not happy with the existing vendors search product.
The feature set of the Express version appears to be what was present in MOSS 2007 search. The full version feature set looks very similar and for some reason they don't have a comparison chart. I did a quick comparison and it appears that Express has an extra Out-of-the-box Indexing Connectors and the full version has High Availability and Load Balancing.
The marketing material couldn't be less clear on the differences and even the headers are different between the two pages even though the major parts of the the content are the same! SharePoint Buzz has a good feature chart. CMS Watch has a very similar view to me on the new announcement.
CNet also has some good coverage on this and points out that it is capable of searching not only internal files but external databases such as web sites, Google news, Wikipedia and BusinessWeek. It also integrates with Microsoft Live.com search engine and will include results from other search providers.
Mary Jo Foley added to this by stating that the Express version won't map into the BDC that MOSS 2007 does.
One thing to reiterate is that Search Server does not include Wildcards, read this post for a further explanation of this.
It is also interesting to see which partners are getting behind the federated search too. With the big ECM players such as ECM, OpenText and Vorsite's connector for IBM FileNet.
This is a clear move to put Google in its targets with their Google Search Appliance technology which has recently been upgraded to include support for federated searches across Cisco Systems, Cognos, NetSuite, Oracle, SalesForce.com and SAS. A few of these are noticeably missing from Microsoft Federated Search partners.
The S2 Codename
Also, it was code named S2...which people had got their wires crossed with the Records Management enhancements for DOD classification that I blogged about recently - including Mary Jo Foley.
One thing to remember though that this is not a 'new' thing as IBM have offered a tool since April. It's like all the noise made around Atlassian working with SharePoint even though SocialText had last year!