In the year 2008, Microsoft acquired a technology company called Fast Search & Transfer ASA for a whopping US$ 1.2 billion. With this acquisition, Microsoft capitalized on the reputation Fast Search had built for itself in the field of enterprise search and tightened its grip on the workspace collaboration ecosystem by introducing the Fast Search feature in SharePoint 2013.

Initially launched as a separate component, Microsoft has since invested considerable effort, time and money to integrate “FAST solution” into SharePoint. And the integration is complete in the latest version of SharePoint 2013 where the best components of Search Server Express, SharePoint Enterprise Search and FAST Search Server are brought into a single SharePoint Search platform

Save Time Using SharePoint 2013 Search Capabilities

While earlier versions of SharePoint facilitated content search via content web query, it had its limitation when the searches were out of Site collections. Now SharePoint 2013 can be used to index content from a wide variety of sources (websites, file shares, exchange folders, lotus notes, etc.) using third party connectors. SharePoint 2013 builds a single respository of index which allows users to provide a single enterprise search center experience and avoid the need for going to different applications to search for the same type of information.

Fundamental architectural changes help overcome the earlier version’s limitations and the user can now index content from multiple site collections thereby fortifying SharePoint’s existing WCM capabilities. These improvements along with new features such as query syntax, query suggestions and results preview pane (hover for full content previews) helps users be more productive by getting faster and more precise search results.

Precise and Centralized Search Results

By leveraging Fast Search content capabilities and fusing it with SharePoint's native search features, Microsoft SharePoint 2013 now renders a centralized dynamic interface. These interfaces are easy to navigate and have a more appealing social user interface making User Experience more productive and engaging. Inbuilt content and usage analytics processing components bring better relevance to search results.

Query suggestions in these features make it much easier to use SharePoint search functionality. These query suggestions offer smart guessing and intuitive assistance that saves time by rendering right search results and assists in preventing typos. If enterprises wish to extend search capabilities to anonymous users, SharePoint 2013 allows integration with Mavention Query Suggestions for public facing SharePoint websites.

Search Latest Documents as Soon as they are Added

In SharePoint 2010 we had to schedule crawls to index the latest content sets being added on a continuous basis. In case the content sets were huge and exceeded the crawl slot, the next scheduled crawl had to wait for the pervious crawl to finish indexing the content set. Due to this time lapse the indexing process would become involved and time consuming.

To ensure that search results are updated at the same rate as that of content addition in an enterprises’s SharePoint site, Microsoft has introduced a continuous crawl feature with Sharepoint 2013. It allows multiple incremental indexing jobs to process paralleling ensuring that no content is missing from the search results.

Learning Opportunities

In order to keep the content sources and search index fresh, SharePoint 2013 facilitates continuous and automatic crawling which eliminate the need to schedule incremental crawls and authentication by allowing administrators to configure crawl schedules. SharePoint 2013 also enables users to remove items from the search index by using crawl logs.

SharePoint 2013 Integration with Office Web Apps

SharePoint 2013 offers smart documents and web pages’ previews and eliminates the redundant task of surfing through files to find the correct one. SharePoint 2013 smart document viewing enables users to get a preview of any document or file by simply resting the cursor on them. This saves a lot of time and helps users become more productive.

SharePoint 2013 allows smart integration with the Office Web Apps both for viewing and editing office content and search previews of documents. Users can choose a document from SharePoint 2013 library or SkyDrive, and edit documents with all Microsoft office functionality or on supported mobile applications. Office web apps, when integrated with SharePoint 2013, render hosts of other features like co-authoring, change tracking, quick preview and more.

With these enhanced search capabilities, SharePoint 2013 can help enterprises with best in class and high end search practices and help their workforce become more productive.

Editor's Note: To read more of the functionality that SharePoint 2013 offers, read Andrew Bishop's SharePoint 2013: 7 Features Users are Going to Love