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Microsoft Finalizes $1.2 Billion Fast Search Purchase

Former Fast CEO John Markus Lervik will lead the enterprise search effort, which will include bolstering Microsoft's Office SharePoint Server.

The former CEO of Fast Search & Transfer will lead Microsoft's effort to create a single enterprise search platform based on Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 search, and Fast ESP.

Microsoft on Friday reported the appointment in announcing the consummation of its $1.2 billion acquisition of Fast.

John Markus Lervik will transition to become Microsoft's corporate VP of enterprise search and will report to Jeff Teper, Microsoft's VP of its Office Business Platform.

Fast will be a Microsoft subsidiary and will operate a dedicated enterprise search research and development center in Norway, Microsoft said. "With our companies combined, we'll be uniquely able to offer customers what they've been telling us they want most -- a strategy for meeting everything from their basic to most complex enterprise search needs," Teper said in a statement.

There is a certain seamless transition by the two companies toward creating a combined enterprise search process, because they have been working to integrate and extend enterprise search capabilities of Office SharePoint Server 2007 since last July when they entered into an agreement to integrate and promote their respective products. SharePoint Server can also function as a platform for Fast's Contextual Insight technology.

"Together we'll deliver better technologies that make enterprise search a ubiquitous tool, central to how people find and use information," said Lervik.

Microsoft said Fast will continue to serve its existing customers with its sales, services, and support teams even as the combined product lines extend customer choices. Microsoft indicated that extensions will be offered in Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Unix going forward.

Microsoft announced on Jan. 8 that it planned to acquire Fast, which has been a willing partner. Several days later Microsoft announced that it planned to acquire Yahoo. However, that deal has been mired in conflict and recriminations because Yahoo has fought the proposed acquisition. While there is some overlap in search activities of all three companies, Yahoo's search engine is generally aimed more toward consumer use, while Fast is aimed more at enterprise search.

Lervik and Fast CTO Bjorn Olstad are barnstorming throughout Europe and the United States, conducting a series of "Global Search Summits" to introduce users to the new combined search services of the two companies.

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