Bill Gates will explain today how Microsoft is adding search capabilities to its enterprise software, emphasising that employees waste time trying to find information.

Gates is scheduled to speak at a conference for corporate executives in Redmond, Washington. Among his company's pending offerings is a new search tool in Office SharePoint Server 2007 that will peer deep into workers' computers, building profiles of what it finds so other employees can find out what those employees know.

Microsoft's emphasis on the search capabilities comes in response to strong competition from Google, which has become the market leader for search on the internet. Google is increasingly courting enterprise customers, offering hardware and software search products tailored to their needs.

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, an upgrade of software used to build web portals and share documents, will be released later this year to corporate users with Microsoft's next office suite, Office 2007. Microsoft says the search feature can automatically discover undocumented knowledge and relationships but also safeguard personal information.

SharePoint will also have a searchable 'business data catalogue' with information from business applications produced by vendors such as SAP and Siebel, Microsoft said.

Google already offers enterprises that functionality in its Google Search Appliance, which with the addition of appropriate software modules can search data in back-office systems from Cisco, Cognos, Oracle and others and present it in a readable format.

Another new Microsoft product, called Office SharePoint Server for Search 2007, can search websites, SharePoint sites, Exchange Server and IBM's collaboration software and Lotus Notes. Microsoft said the search software can be upgraded to the full SharePoint Server product.

Later this year, Microsoft said it will release a test version of Windows Live Search, another feature that will be able to scan the internet, desktops and corporate networks.