Microsoft To Open Search R&D Center In Norway

Oslo is home to Fast Search and Transfer, the search firm that Microsoft acquired in January for about $1.2 billion in order to bolster its enterprise search capabilities. The combined Microsoft-Fast operations currently employ about 300 people, and Microsoft says it plans to add an additional 50 researchers and developers.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the project after meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who described Microsoft's plan as "a fantastic thing," according to a report in the Norwegian English language daily Afterposten.

Fast Search and Transfer's software gives workers the ability to find and retrieve structured and unstructured information throughout an organization, and the company's competitors include search, access and analysis software vendors such as Autonomy, Endeca, Isys Search Software, Vivisimo and Zylab.

Although it hasn't said much about its plans for Fast Search, Microsoft will likely integrate its technology with the wildly popular Office SharePoint Server application, which includes tools for collaboration, business intelligence, portal, and content management.

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Microsoft's Oslo center will expand the company's European R&D footprint, which includes R&D centers in Cambridge, England, and Copenhagen, Denmark.