“I am shocked, SHOCKED, to find out that gambling is going on here,” says Claude Raines as Captain Louis Renault, as he feigns disbelief in busting up Rick’s Cafe in the classic film Casablanca — right before the croupier hands him a wad of bills.

I think we were all equally “shocked” to learn that Microsoft would drop support for FAST ESP (Enterprise Search Platform) on anything but Windows, as they announced this past week. But for anyone who’d bet on FAST in spite of the Microsoft acquisition, it was surely unpleasant surprise. There are certainly plenty of reasons to question how strategic decisions are made at Microsoft — witness the recent NYTimes Op-Ed by a former VP painting its culture as feudal, bureaucratic and anti-innovative. Perhaps Microsoft saw it as some form of competitive advantage to favor dot-net. But how long will it be before the antibodies that rejected further investment in a standalone search engine on Unix reject a standalone search engine altogether?

As Steve Arnold observed, it must be tough. If even the FAST development team itself needed to drop everything to make FAST work on dot-net, how hard would it be for a FAST-on-Not-Windows customer? Are they stranded, like a refugee¬† in Rick’s Cafe in WWII North Africa?

If there’s one thing that open source search can offer, it’s fewer surprises. The roadmap for Lucene/Solr search is as open as the source code, with the development plan out there for all to see. Then, there’s question of good cross-platform support: Lucene and Solr are not only available on Java across platforms, but some more notable users even run them on a d0t-net infrastructure, such as Myspace (scaling to over 827 billion records searched with Lucene) or Lucid Imagination customer Motley Fool. In fact, the new Lucidworks Certified Distribution for Solr hides all the startup java configuration details with a simple installer. And to even prevent surprises for production enterprise deployments of open source search, our commercial grade support subscriptions deliver expertise on demand.

So look in the mirror, and ask yourself: who gains competitive advantage from your choice of search technology?