Microsoft will no longer offer Linux or Unix versions of its enterprise search products after a wave of releases set to ship in the first half of this year, the company announced in an official blog post Thursday.

After Microsoft bought Fast Search & Transfer in 2008, it said it would continue offering and updating standalone versions of the company’s ESP platform for Linux and Unix, wrote Bjorn Olstad, CTO for Fast and a Microsoft distinguished engineer. “Over the last two years, we’ve done just that.”

But the products being released this year will be the last containing a search core compatible with Linux and Unix, he said.

There is logic behind Microsoft’s decision, according to Olstad.

“Although I understand that focusing on Windows will be a hard change for some of our customers, I’m convinced that it’s the right thing to do because it will accelerate our rate of innovation,” he wrote.

Microsoft is trying to make the move easier on affected customers, Olstad added.

“We will always interoperate with non-Windows systems on both the front- and back-end. Our search solutions will crawl and index content stored on Windows, Linux, and Unix systems, and our UI controls will work with UI frameworks running on any operating system,” he stated.

In addition, it will support ESP 5.3, the search core for the products that will be released this year, for 10 years. Customers who decide to keep running the core on Unix or Linux can “add Windows-only innovations or cloud-based services by using a mixed-platform architecture,” he said.

Microsoft is also rolling out an “upgrade program” that will “help customers evaluate our hosted solutions and/or a Windows-based deployment.”

However, “there’s no immediate action required as a result of this announcement-and I expect that most of you will stay with your current deployments for some time,” Olstad added.

A significant number of customers are running Fast on Linux or Unix, according to Jared Spataro, director ofenterprise search at Microsoft. He declined to provide specific figures.

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