What’s new and what’s next for Microsoft Search
Published May 25 2021 09:00 AM 16.1K Views

Bill Baer, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Search Assistant and Intelligence (MSAI)


Information has gone from scarce to superabundant and while the benefits of having access to information are countless, how do we know what we don’t know? New capabilities coming to Microsoft Search provide more reach, more locations, and more flexibility to bring you more choice to find, do, and discover. 


Bringing your data to search 

Microsoft Graph connectors for Microsoft Search are now generally available. This enables your organization to connect your islands of information to Microsoft 365 (index time merging) so you can find what you need wherever you’re working, whether in one of your favorite productivity apps or one of the many Microsoft 365 services such as SharePoint or Office.com. 


Microsoft Graph connectors are the intelligent fabric that bring together information from disparate systems, on-premises and in the cloud, and your information in Microsoft 365 making it easier than ever to find what you need, when you need it. For example, maybe you want to improve selfservice and case resolution, but don’t want to have to remember where to go or what app to use.


With Microsoft Graph connectors, you can simply bring information from systems like ServiceNow into Microsoft 365 and make that information available across its apps and services. Microsoft Search eliminates the need to recall where information is, mitigates costly context switching, and takes advantage of the global perspective provided by the Microsoft Graph. Maybe you haven’t migrated those file shares to the cloud, no problem, we have you covered or maybe you need to not only connect to your customers, but want to connect your leads too – check, we’ve got you covered. 


Microsoft Graph connectors empower your organization to discover more, in less time, in fewer places. Keep reading to learn more about Microsoft Graph connectors, how to get started, and what’s coming. 


Getting started 

Getting started with Microsoft Graph connectors is as easy a few clicks in the Search & intelligence admin center and as part of your Microsoft 365 subscription, you have access to Microsoft built connectors to include: 


Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 

The Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 Graph connector allows users in your organization to search for files stored in Azure Blob Storage and Azure Data Lake Gen 2 Storage accounts. 


Azure DevOps (Preview) 

The Azure DevOps Graph connector allows your organization to index work items in its instance of the Azure DevOps service. 


Azure SQL 

The Microsoft SQL server or Azure SQL Graph connector allows your organization to discover and index data from an on-premises SQL Server database, or a database hosted in your Azure SQL instance in the cloud.  



The MediaWiki Graph connector allows your organization to discover and index data from a wiki created by using MediaWiki software.  


Salesforce (Preview) 

The Salesforce Graph connector allows your organization to index Contacts, Cases, Opportunities, Leads, and Accounts objects visible to users according to the user criteria permissions within your organization in your Salesforce instance. Learn about how to quickly set up your Salesforce connection and sync non-Azure AD users and groups with this video: https://youtu.be/SZYiFxZMKcM 



The ServiceNow Graph connector allows your organization to index knowledge-based articles visible to users according to the user criteria permissions within your organization. Learn about the latest improvements at https://youtu.be/TVSkJpk1RiE 


File Share Graph connector 

The file share Graph connectors allows you index and search the following formats: DOC, DOCM, DOCX, DOT, DOTX, EML, GIF, HTML, JPEG, MHT, MHTML, MSG, NWS, OBD, OBT, ODP, ODS, ODT, ONE, PDF, POT, PPS, PPT, PPTM, PPTX, TXT, XLB, XLC, XLSB, XLS, XLSX, XLT, XLXM, XML, XPS, and ZIP.  


Learn more about the file share Graph connector at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftsearch/fileshare-connector. 


Microsoft SQL Server Graph connectors 

The Microsoft SQL server or Azure SQL Graph connector allows your organization to discover and index data from an on-premises SQL Server database, or a database hosted in your Azure SQL instance in the cloud.  


Learn more about the Azure SQL and Microsoft SQL Server Graph connectors at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftsearch/mssql-connector. 


Oracle SQL Graph connector 

The Oracle SQL Graph connector allows your organization to discover and index data from an on-premises Oracle database.  


Learn more about the Oracle / SQL Graph connector at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftsearch/oraclesql-connector. 


Enterprise websites Graph connector 

The Enterprise websites Graph connector allows your organization to index articles and content from intranet websites including dynamic sites. 


Learn more about the  https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftsearch/enterprise-web-connector. 


In addition to connectors provided by Microsoft, our partners have delivered over 130+ connectors to help you connect your islands of information to Microsoft 365. to help you connect your islands of information to Microsoft 365. 


Didn’t find what you need from Microsoft or our partners, not to worry, we’ve got you covered with Graph APIs that allow for building your own custom connector as well. Get started at externalItem resource type - Microsoft Graph beta | Microsoft Docs. 


Connection admin screenshot.png



What’s new and what’s next for Graph connectors 

As we continue to innovate across the Microsoft Graph connector ecosystem and related capabilities, we’re bringing together more data sources, with more features, and the same ease of use. 


Results clusters 

In addition to these connectors, Microsoft Graph connectors results clusters (preview) now allow you to search for content from any data source in their default view, the All vertical in SharePoint, Office.com, and Bing.com when signed in with a work or school account. 

Result clusters help users discover all third-party content in one place. The results shown in a result cluster are grouped together based on the search vertical configuration. 


Result cluster with Microsoft Graph connectors in SharePoint OnlineResult cluster with Microsoft Graph connectors in SharePoint Online




Profile Query variables  

Query variables are used in query template of a vertical to provide dynamic data as an input to the query defined on a vertical. Profile query variables are now supported for connector verticals. Define any attribute from the user’s Profile, as a query variable and it would be resolved during query evaluation. This feature is currently in preview.  


Profile enrichment with Graph connectors 

In addition to searching across connector data, you will soon be able to enrich Microsoft 365 profile properties like Job title, Phone numbers, Skills etc. with data from HRMS systems like SAP SuccessFactors, Workday, Oracle HCM, etc. using graph connectors. You can then surface this rich profile information on people experiences like profile cards seamlessly for everyone in your organization.  


Profile enrichment with Microsoft Graph connectorsProfile enrichment with Microsoft Graph connectors


Check out the detailed blog on how you can do this at https://aka.ms/microsoftsearch/build21/profileenrichment.  


Sync your non-Azure AD users and groups to support search permissions  

For the Azure DevOpsSalesforce, and ServiceNow Microsoft-built connectors, you can now sync non-Azure AD users/groups from your external data source with your Azure AD users/groups so that your end users can see search results permissioned to them.  

During the connection configuration process, you can choose Only people with access to this data source on the Manage search permissions screen. For the ServiceNow and Salesforce connectors, you may have to provide a set of mapping rules to map your non-Azure AD users to your Azure AD users. At the end of connection setup, your non-Azure AD users/groups will sync with your Azure AD users/groups along with your content. This will ensure that your end users see searched content permissioned only to them.  

This feature is currently in public preview; to try it out, your tenant and users must be in the Targeted release ring.  


New connectors coming to Microsoft Search 

  • Jira Graph connector 
  • Confluence Graph connector 


New locations for Microsoft Graph connectors 

Soon Microsoft Graph connector information will be available to search in Microsoft Teams and Windows, in addition to existing locations to include SharePoint, Office.com, and Microsoft Bing. 


Microsoft Graph connector information in Windows 10Microsoft Graph connector information in Windows 10


Actionable experiences 

Search results on select Graph connectors will soon support actions that will allow users to interact with the result and perform changes to the Connector content within the Search application.  


Actionable information with Microsoft Graph connectors in SharePoint OnlineActionable information with Microsoft Graph connectors in SharePoint Online


eDiscovery support 

eDiscovery support for Graph connectors developer preview will be available in summer 2021. Use the same eDiscovery tools in Microsoft 365 to search for content in third-party systems connected to Microsoft Search.  


Request a trial 

Want to try Microsoft Graph connectors? If you would like to try Microsoft Graph connectors in Microsoft 365, contact your account representative to receive a limited trial experience to try out Microsoft Graph connectors today. 


Didn't find the connector you are looking for? Provide us with feedback at http://aka.ms/graphconnectorsfeedback. 


Bring search to your data 

In addition to new and improved Microsoft Graph connectors we’ll soon make available the new Microsoft Search Federation as part of the Microsoft Search product offering. New federation capabilities will allow enterprises to retrieve their CRM content from their enterprise Dynamics 365, also build and integrate their custom LOB search experiences, customized search providers, into the overall Microsoft Search.  


Federated search is useful when you want to expose data from systems in Microsoft Search that may be subject to strict compliance requirements or where the systems data cannot leave the systems boundaries. In some other cases, sources with sensitive data that customer doesn’t want to be indexed on the cloud where data is on-prem to expand coverage for their sensitive data via federation. With federated search, you can make information from these systems available to search across in Microsoft 365 productivity apps and services, without indexing its data with Microsoft Search. 


Built-in Microsoft federation connectors 

Information has become increasingly distributed, and often these islands of information are near, but outside of reach. Microsoft federation connectors help you pull together information and insights from across Microsoft clouds, merging that information and making it available to search in your favorite productivity apps and services, from SharePoint, to Office.com, to Microsoft Teams. 

Getting started with Microsoft Search federation is as easy a few clicks in the Search & intelligence admin center. You can quickly set up the connection to a federated source using one of the available Microsoft built-in federation connectors (currently limited to Dynamics 365): 


Dynamics 365 Federation Search (Preview) 


Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a product line of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management intelligent business applications. Dynamics 365 federation search allows you intelligently search for information in Dynamics 365 through Microsoft Search, which provides the seamless out-of-box search experience to easily and quickly find most relevant customer and business data across your organization without switching back and forth between Microsoft 365 productivity apps and services and Dynamics 365. 


Check out a demonstration here https://youtu.be/TH9QUkQoEJM.


Dynamics 365 federation with Microsoft SearchDynamics 365 federation with Microsoft Search




A private preview for Dynamics 365 federated search will be available this summer. If you are interested in taking part in the private preview, let us know at aka.ms/D365FederationSearchPreview.  


Dynamics 365 is our first provider built on top of our federated search platform, and while a great milestone for federated search with Microsoft Search, this is only the beginning of the journey. We have ambitious plans to continue to add more search federation scenarios, such as Azure Cognitive Search, which will allow customers to seamlessly retrieve and display search results from their custom search index in Microsoft Search. 


Customize your Microsoft Search Federation Provider 

In addition to federation with native data sources, federated search also provides a platform to empower you to build custom search providers for your own unique information sources. The federated search platform: 


  • Provides the ability to bring back results from other Microsoft clouds and custom data stores on-premises or on other clouds by building and registering custom search providers that can be invoked for any input query.  
  • Allows custom vertical for domain specific experiences and high confidence answer cards in the All Results tab enabling enterprise specific and custom data to play a fair role in overall Search experiences.  
  • Provides an industry-standard development platform powered by Azure Bot Service and Adaptive UX technology to build-once/enable across many canvases (we could expand on this to play up the aspect of bots built for non-Search experiences such as conversational bots can easily be enabled for Search experiences).  
  • Provides IT Admin controls that allow rich control and flexible customizations for their enterprise specific needs.  


The Microsoft Search federation provider will allow you to search for information from external sources and bring the results to Microsoft Search as high confidence Answer cards. You can make use of the platform to integrate HR tools, helpdesk, IT, or any other external content in the Microsoft Search experience. 


Watch the demostration at https://youtu.be/AZcOskBTwNU.


Search federationSearch federation



Microsoft Search federation will initially be available to SharePoint, Office.com and Microsoft Bing, and in the future across other Microsoft Search enabled apps and services. This platform will be available in private preview summer of 2021. If you are interested in taking part in the private preview, let us know at https://aka.ms/SearchDevPrivatePreview .


Extend your search data 

The Microsoft Search API provides one unified search endpoint that you can use to query data in the Microsoft cloud - messages and events in Outlook mailboxes, and files on OneDrive and SharePoint - that Microsoft Search already indexes. 


Use Microsoft Graph connectors to include data outside of the Microsoft cloud in your search experience. For instance, connect to an organization's human resources database or product catalog. Then use the Microsoft Search API to seamlessly query the external data source. 


With connectors in place, you can provide your users with easy access to results and improve usage by adding a Microsoft Search embedded box to your company's intranet sites.   


Soon we’ll allow for the use of a new signals API, which will your app’s content take part in intelligent discovery experiences like "Recommended", and "Recent" files in Office Hub.  


Learn more about Microsoft Graph connectors with the following resources: 



Microsoft Graph Connectors Overview | Microsoft Docs 



Graph connectors for Microsoft Search: What’s new 

Getting started with Microsoft Graph connectors 

Learn how to build Microsoft Graph connectors 


More Microsoft Graph-powered experiences coming soon 

In addition, we’re pleased to announce additional Microsoft Graph-powered experiences to help you find and do more to be more productive. 


Introducing Org Explorer 

It’s the places and faces we remember and today we’re making it easier than ever to visualize and contextualize people and teams across your company with a new addition to Outlook.  


This new application available to Office Insiders allows you to find, discover, and explore people and relationships through a delightful organizational browser experience. 


Org ExplorerOrg Explorer


What’s Next 

We’ll continue to evolve this experience over the next few months with some exciting new changes and features. 



This feature has started rolling out to Beta Channel users running Version 14107 of Outlook or later. 

We typically release features over some time to ensure that things are working smoothly. This is true for Insiders as well. We highlight features that you may not have because they’re slowly releasing to larger numbers of Insiders. Similarly, sometimes we remove elements to improve them. Though rare, we also reserve the option to pull a feature entirely out of the product. 


Sign up for the Office Insider newsletter and get the latest information about Insider features in your inbox once a month! 

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