I experienced some strange behaviour with People Search in MOSS 2007 recently and wanted to share my thoughts on how you can resolve it.
I had configured the user profile import, which imported over a 1,000 profiles, configured an instance of search and began a full crawl of the environment to create the index. Once this completed I then went into the portal site and tested profile searches were working by querying user names. At this stage everything was ok.
Later in the day I went back into the search configuration and edited some of the addresses in the Local Office SharePoint Server sites content source. A day later I noticed user searches were not displaying any results.
I went back into the SSP to have a look at this, it seems at this stage everything was ok, so I tried to reset the index and re crawl. It was here I got the message ‘Error in PortalCrawl Web Service’ for each of the user profiles I had imported.
The resolution for this was to delete a batch of the user profiles and then re crawl. This did the trick of sticking the user profiles data back into the search index and I was away from there.
There’s quite a few blog posts out there on this issue but a lot of them are related to SharePoint Portal Server (SPS 2003) and I think you can save yourself a lot of time but trying this approach early on.