I'm so happy to announce the birth of Office and SharePoint Pro, the new community for you--the IT pros, developers, and end users who support, extend, and use SharePoint Products and Technologies, and Microsoft Office System servers and applications. We've been working hard to build on the successful heritage of MSD2D.com, which has been migrated into Office and SharePoint Pro.

I couldn't be more proud and more excited about the opportunity to bring the thousands of incredibly smart and talented people in our community together in new ways. And I couldn't be more excited to invite you to join in and contribute. I know you've learned things about SharePoint that will help your colleagues, and they have great tips and guidance that will help you as you work through the challenges of making the most of SharePoint in your enterprise.

It's always been a dream of mine to take the kind of value we find when we gather at live events such as SharePoint Connections and bring that to the entire, global community. We also have a lot of great resources that we're going to be bringing to the site. This is going to be an amazing resource!

Please stop by the site and say "hi" as we unveil Office and SharePoint Pro. Let us know what you want to see--the resources that would be valuable to you. This site is for you, and for all of us. Ask your questions. Share your tips. I'll see you on the site. Last week, Microsoft announced Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express, which brings the powerful search capabilities of SharePoint Server to the masses in a free (yes you read that right!) tool that can index SharePoint resources, file shares, and (with free connectors that will be released in 2008) EMC Documentum and IBM FileNet resources. There is also no limit to the number of documents that can be indexed. The only limit for this product is that it can be installed on only one server. Other servers in Microsoft's search products portfolio (e.g. MOSS 2007 and Search Server 2008) will take up the task for greater scalability.

So, Microsoft promises, IT admins in shops of any size will be able to go from download to search in less than 30 minutes, providing user-familiar Web search capabilities for enterprise resources--fully security-aware--for free. There's no more excuse for not implementing search in organizations! "Information workers waste as much as 9.5 hours each week on searches that don't turn up the right information, which can add up to millions of dollars in lost productivity every year," said Kirk Koenigsbauer, general manager of the SharePoint Business Group at Microsoft. I'm sure the company's research is good, although 9.5 hours sounds a bit high to me, but even if it saves 10 minutes per week per employee, that's a LOT of time and money over the course of a year.

A beta is available for download and testing. I'll be interested to hear what you think about your experience with this great new solution!