Why Foundation when you can Search?

I was helping to plan a migration for one of my customers from Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 to SharePoint Foundation 2010. At the point where we were one week from migration he happened to ask, “hey… what about Search Server Express 2010?”

To be honest I hadn’t thought much about Search Express as most of my experience has been with SharePoint Server 2010, which has its own Enterprise Search built in. For those of you not familiar with Search Server Express 2010 and its capabilities, please refer to this. As you can see from the chart below (full information can be found here):



Now I had always made the assumption that Search Server Express was an add-on to SharePoint Foundation 2010 and thought this would be an easy update after we performed the migration from WSSv3 to SPF2010. Boy was I mistaken…

If you try to install Search Server Express 2010 on a box that already has SPF2010, then you get the following:


So the next bright thought was to see if we could install Search Server Express on an additional server and add it to the Foundation farm. No such luck and you get this when you attempt to join the farm:



You’ll notice in the screenshot above that there are two items missing which are causing this farm join to fail. One being Office Web Apps, but more importantly the second item, Microsoft Search Server 2010 Express. This indicates that you cannot join a Search Server Express server to an existing SharePoint Foundation 2010 farm.

The last thing I did was to install Search Server Express as its own farm and realized that it actually includes SharePoint Foundation 2010 and the additional Search capabilities.


Lesson to learn?

If you are thinking of using SharePoint Foundation 2010, then just skip it and go straight to Search Server Express 2010.

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