Most of you know two types of SharePoint 2010:

  1. SharePoint Foundation 2010 for free
  2. SharePoint Server 2010, which requires licenses.

If we have a look to all SharePoint products, we will see this stack:

For a comparison about these products, have a look at the SharePoint Editions Comparison and the Search Server Express Compare.

For many companies the free version of SharePoint, known as SharePoint Foundation 2010, is the entrance into the world of SharePoint. It provides access to lists and libraries to get first experiences with the SharePoint technology.

But this version has one big handicap: you cannot crawl the content of pdf-files with the search engine of SharePoint Foundation 2010. Actually there is no way to configure the usage of the PDF IFilter, as it was possible with SharePoint Services 3.0.

The answer to the question, how we can solve this problem: use Search Server 2010 Express.

In Search Server 2010 Express the search engine from SharePoint Server 2010 is built into SharePoint Foundation. There are a few differences between the search in SharePoint Server 2010 and Search Server 2010 Express, but we are able to implement IFilters into Search Server. Most of the users will not see the differences. So we are able to crawl the content of pdf-files and the user is able to search the whole content of a list or library.

What we need is the 64-bit version of the PDF IFilter that is available by Adobe and Foxit. A description, how to configure Search Server 2010 or SharePoint Server 2010 to use this IFilter could be found in the Microsoft knowledge base. So, if you want to implement the free version of the actual SharePoint technology, use Search Server 2010 Express instead of SharePoint Foundation. It’s also free of charge and you will get the better search engine. If you need to install language packs, you can use the language packs designed for the SharePoint Server editions.

So, forget all about SharePoint Foundation 2010. If you need to implement the free version of the SharePoint technology, use Search Server 2010 Express.