Microsoft Unveils Overhauled Desktop Search

With Tuesday's release of Windows Search 4.0, Microsoft is playing up faster indexing and query response times as well as the technology's ability to continue indexing even after a system failure, said Brandon LeBlanc, a spokesperson for the Windows Vista team, in a Tuesday blog post.

Windows Search 4.0 is now available from the Microsoft Download Center, and also works with Windows Server 2008, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Home Server. Through a feature called remote index discovery, also known as PC-to-PC search, users can now search for files across the different Windows platforms, according to LeBlanc.

Search 4.0 gives enterprise IT administrators more control over the indexing of Exchange servers and file shares through the use of group policy objects, which helps reduce server and network strain, LeBlanc wrote. This was one of the main issues with Windows Desktop Search 3.01, which shipped with Windows XP.

In Search 4.0, the search UI on client PCs running Windows Vista or XP can be configured to send queries to the organization's search sever, thus giving users a single UI from which to conduct all their searches, LeBlanc noted.

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Companies that secure their files with the Encrypting File System (EFS), part of the NTFS file system in Windows 2000, Windows XP Professional, and Windows Server 2003, can now have these files appear in the results generated by Search 4.0, LeBlanc said.

Microsoft plans to make Search 4.0 available on Windows Update at some point in the future, but LeBlanc didn't specify when that would occur.

Last year, Microsoft revealed an internal research project called Casino, and also referred to as OneView, which aimed to provide a single, unified interface for search across desktops, intranets and the Web.

However, while Search 4.0 addresses many of the issues that Casino was supposed to solve, Microsoft has said that Search 4.0 is distinctly different.