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The enterprise search capabilities of Microsoft’s coming software portfolio present an opportunity for partners to gain a foothold in advanced technologies.

Partners should use the search capabilities built into Microsoft’s SharePoint server, Windows Vista and Office 2007, to bring a more advanced, and Microsoft-based, business solution to their clients, said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO.

“Search is a good opportunity as a stand-alone solution and a great opportunity to get into these broader fields opening up,” Ballmer told attendees July 11 at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Boston.

“The customer gets immediate value from search across desktop, enterprise and the Internet, and from there you can add value over time with customized portals. Vista and Office present a powerful selling opportunity for this solution.”

Microsoft announced a program of benefits, training and access to the product to help develop enterprise search solution capabilities among partners.

More than 35 partners are already working with the software vendor to build enterprise search solutions, Ballmer said.

To listen to more from Steve Ballmer at Microsoft’s Partner Conference, click here.

Vista and Office 2007 function similar to Google Desktop, searching desktop and internet, but with SharePoint collaboration software, and adds an enterprise search and communications capability, said Kirk Koenigsbauer, Microsoft’s general manager of Microsoft’s Information Worker Group.

Koenigsbauer illustrated several examples whereby an employee could search his or her own contacts and branch out to search companywide documents, including personalized MySpace-like in-house employee pages with contact details and which documents they’re working on, before veering off to an Internet-wide search.