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Microsoft Begins to Expand the Features of Enterprise Search for SharePoint Online, and for Office 365

Organizations with a SharePoint Online, Office 365 subscription may have noticed a new, amber colored query symbol on the top left of the pages served with results from a SharePoint search. This writer found this icon when he ran a search with the SharePoint Online query box. When he clicked on this new query symbol he landed on a Google-like blank page with a centered search box, in Office 365.

Is Microsoft starting to role out some of the new features Satya Nadella referred to, when he mentioned Microsoft would soon “stand Enterprise Search on its head”? (to be precise, Satya mentioned this in the context of presenting Delve during Microsoft’s most recent quarterly earnings report)

From the looks of this new search feature, a safe answer would be a qualified “yes”. A search for the keyword “SharePoint” produced a vertical list of qualifiers on the left hand side of the results page. “Results type” amounted to a list of possible file types — including Blog, Excel, Image, OneNote, PDF, PowerPoint, Task, Team Site, Web Page, Word, Zip. In other words, an amalgam of SharePoint Online components (Tasks, and Team Site) and document types (Excel for spreadsheets, OneNote for notebooks, Powerpoint for slide decks, Word) as separate qualifiers.

One might ask, why not include the document types as assets stored in SharePoint libraries and lists? Since the results are presented in Office 365, perhaps the rationale is to treat Office Pro Plus as an entirely separate data “realm”.

At the top of the left hand vertical list of search qualifiers, in a larger font and a different type color one finds a hot link titled “Search on Yammer.” This writer clicked on the link, but was brought to the Yammer home page, where he would need to authenticate and, presumably, run the same search, once again, albeit this time across the set of relational artifacts to be found there. This last step should be (and most likely will be) enhanced as this feature gains form and momentum.

Ira Michael Blonder

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