A common request from customers is "How can we do wildcard searches in WSSv3/MOSS 2007?"
When I dig a little deeper about their needs, more often than not, what they are trying to provide is partial name matching when searching User Profiles. Happily, SharePoint can handle this scenario easily if you know how to take advantage of a little known feature – Prefix Matching on Search Properties.
The first thing you need to do is understand Enterprise Search URL Syntax, the reference for it is here: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa637082.aspx and Enterprise Search Property Filters, which is here: http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms582745.aspx Pretty simple.
Now that you know that, the only additional piece of the puzzle is to know that Search Properties support prefix matching.
Therefore, with a URL such as this:
you would find all User Profiles for people whose first name begins with "Lar" and last name begins with "Ku". This is extremely handy when you are on the phone and you get just a bit of a person's name and you aren't exactly sure how to spell it. Armed with an understanding of the URL syntax and how it works, you can easily create a little web part that will collect user entered values for the properties and fire off the query.
I first learned about Prefix Matching on Properties over here: http://www.u2u.info/Blogs/Patrick/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=1673 (see the update at the bottom of this post).