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I am working with an environment that is using SharePoint Foundation 2010 and Search Server Express. Due to a third party tool not supporting Search Server Express I would like to go back to using the SharePoint Foundation search.

In a previous attempt (different environment) to remove Search Server Express we went ahead and uninstalled it via control panel. This resulted in SharePoint more or less breaking and needing to reinstall/reconfigure and attach the content database to the new farm.

Since I believe the above method to be a bad idea and not at all ideal, I am thinking that its possible I can simply turn off the service and remove the service application and then enable the SharePoint Foundation search and be good to go.

The problem I am facing is I know for a fact that the time it would take to set up an environment for testing and then to actually test this process would take me much more time then just performing the work since the environments I have for dev and test are 2010 enterprise with standard search and the environment in question does not have a dev or test environment. To help save on time (total hours, not time elapsed) I thought I would reach out to the community to see if anyone has tried this or knows of a better way to remove or disable search server express.

What is the best way to remove or disable search server express? Is the solution I propose above a working one that someone has actually tested?

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This is a problem we have encountered time and time again. Downgrading SharePoint is a pain in the proverbials...

Basically the only known way of doing this is backing up your data, removing and reinstalling SharePoint on the machine in question. So as you said the solution is:

"In a previous attempt (different environment) to remove Search Server Express we went ahead and uninstalled it via control panel. This resulted in SharePoint more or less breaking and needing to reinstall/reconfigure and attach the content database to the new farm."

It may seem like a bad idea, but it is a valid strategy and easily implemented.

Your alternate solution:

"I am thinking that its possible I can simply turn off the service and remove the service application and then enable the SharePoint Foundation search and be good to go."

Seems fine in Theory but it is breaking because of the Keys involved, nothing to do with services. (That's my experience anyway and 2008 was worse than 2010 uninstalling broke the server) [update]

However after our chat, it is the firm belief that just disabling the service and enabling foundation search wouldn't break SharePoint as long as it is fully disabled and all indexes removed first.

The funny thing is Microsofts download page of the product for Uninstalling this [here] just says to remove from control panel. (Anyone reading this, don't do this.)

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What do you mean by Keys? I'm not actually downgrading my installation of SharePoint. I just don't want to use an add on component that I installed (Search Server Express). Could you be specific on what components / services you were using when you had problems with this? –  ToddersLegrande Dec 3 '12 at 15:40
    
There is a key that is added for the Express Search, in 2008 I found a way of removing the keys when removing it and it worked, but 2010 this didn't work. Our sysadmin who is a bonified genius still has this issue from time to time, but our transfer process is fast now, and we can rebuild a server in very little time should we need to do this. IE when running a service pack that breaks it. This is from our experience. I believe it is also the safer option. Do you have a migration tool? –  Hugh Wood Dec 3 '12 at 15:56
    
No Migration tool. I have worked with AvePoint but I don't see that as a reasonable solution in this case. Rebuilding a server requires the reinstallation and configuration of SharePoint and reattaching of the content databases to the "new" farm. This should only take a few hours. But is still much more work than switching the services if it would work. Are you referring to registry keys or what? –  ToddersLegrande Dec 3 '12 at 16:02
    
Since Express Search is an application in it's own right it has a product key, for some reason SharePoint seems to retain this and expects it. There may be a way if I could find out what to manually remove of doing this. A thought actually, perhaps the expectation of the product being there would be removed by enabling foundation search. But me and my Sysadmin doubt it. Don't you have the site replicated to a Staging Environment for testing patches already? –  Hugh Wood Dec 3 '12 at 16:06
    
Nope. That is what I was looking to avoid since they don't have anything in place. Care to join me in chat real quick? –  ToddersLegrande Dec 3 '12 at 16:09
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