Winter 2020


In the Conference Year there are only two seasons. The first runs from March to early May and the second from October to early December. This particular bi-seasonal structure is primarily driven by the time it takes to promote the event and attract reservations. So in this issue I can offer you very good reports of the Taxonomy Bootcamp (October) and BCS-IRSG Search Solutions together with the Strix Award lecture (late November). Forthcoming are a workshop about fairness in information retrieval to be held in Glasgow in March and then ECIR2020 in the sunshine of Lisbon in April. The main feature of this issue is a detailed analysis of the current situation and future development of the search functionality in Microsoft Office 365. The installed base of SharePoint/Office 365 is immense, and for a great many customers O365 offers the most powerful search application they have probably ever come across. However, this application arrives with the rest of Microsoft Office 365. There was no statement of requirements for the search element, so whether it meets the current and future requirements of an organisation is uncertain, especially when Microsoft has a fairly cavalier attitude to version release dates. Agnes Molnar is one of the leading independent consultants on Microsoft search applications (there are very few!) and I invited her to write an overview of the application. Finally there is a short contribution from me on BM25, which for me is where information retrieval meets search, a continuing theme of my curation of Informer. Of course if you have travel and registration budget to use up Andrew MacFarlane provides his comprehensive list of conferences despite being on a sabbatical. That’s real dedication to the IRSG!