Windows Search, Take 4 Preview

Windows Search, Take 4 Preview

If you're a Windows XP user, you might remember that the last time you heard "Windows" and "Search" in the same sentence, it was painful. Windows Desktop Search 3.01 was rolled out in the summer of 2007, and quickly became known as a terrible performance drag and, to make matters worse, was included as part of the guts of Windows Live Photo Gallery for Windows XP (although you could remove it later). Well, Microsoft's making amends with a preview release of a new search tool known simply as Windows Search 4.0. What's new in 4.0?

What's New in Windows Search 4 Preview

Windows Search 4.0 (WS4) uses the same search engine that is used by Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 - it runs as a service.

According to the Windows Vista Team Blog annoucement, Vista searches are 33% faster using Windows Search 4.0 than with Vista's own search, and most bugs have been fixed. However, WS4 (which runs on all current Windows operating systems, both desktop and server) offers a lot of improvements for every supported operating system:

    • If you're trying to find files on a remote system, WS4 will use the remote system's index, so you can find files much faster.
    • Rollback Recovery rolls the index back to the last known good state in the event of an error, rather than rebuilding it from scratch.
    • With increased emphasis on security, EFS encryption is becoming a more important part of protecting data from snoopers, and WS4 can index and search for encrypted files.

WS4 also contains numerous improvements for corporate networking and management, as well as faster previewer updates for Windows XP users. See Microsoft KB article 940157 for details, as well as a list of support features installed by WS4.

The feature list (and the up-front way Microsoft explains what's being added to your system when you install WS4) suggest that Microsoft has learned a lot from the WDS 3.01 fiasco. However, there's only one way to tell for sure: try it.

Windows Search 4.0 Works With...

...all current Windows desktop and server operating systems, including:

  • Windows XP SP2 (and SP3)
  • Windows XP Professional x64 Windows Vista SP1 (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows Server 2003 SP1 and 64-bit versions
  • Windows Server 2008 Windows Home Server

(Yes, Vista users, you must have SP1 to try Windows Search 4.0)

Links to all downloads are available in 940157, or from the Windows Search website. Learn more about how it works here. Forums and support are available here.



+ Add a Comment


Copernic Desktop Search is still better than Windows Search and Google Search. For some reason (probably cuz it's not Google or MS) it doesn't get nearly as much press. It gives faster, more relevant search results and consumes less system resources and is more configurable than the other two.



When Max PC had their article about how bad Windows Desktop Search was (I was using it), I went ahead and banned it (I was experiencing degraded performance) and went to Google's Desktop Search. I usually like Google's products and do everything I can not to use Micro$oft's bloatware, but GDS just couldn't get the job done! Even after installing plugins so that it would look at some of the file types I wanted indexed, it was still an inferior product. I installed the WDS 4 preview on Friday and that night it had already built a big enough index to save me time and find what I needed when GDS could not (I currently have both installed)! So it's good to have WDS back and hopefully it won't have the performance issues on my system that it had last time.


Keith E. Whisman

I pretty much look at linux as something to play with. All serious work (gaming) for me anyhow is done with Windows. For me Linux just gives me some geek cred and not much more.
What I was referring about earlier though was that at the prompt in linux you can type the first few letters of a command and press the tab button for autocomplete. Pretty cool huh. It also autocompletes file and directory names. It's pretty powerful when you think of how long Linux commands can get. Windows is getting there with the added benefit of game and hardware manufacturers spend a majority of their R&D dollars making Windows a very amazing and enjoyable experience regardless of the flaws you can't tell me you hate Vista while playing highres Crysis in SLI with all the eye candy turned on. And I've installed the new WS4 and it does seem to be a slight bit faster I guess. I really did'nt use the old search that often.



In linux, you click on a terminal and type find [path] -name [name] and you can find anything you want about 1000x faster than anything available for Windows.

Is it really that hard to find a document called finance by typing find / finance* ? Do we really need a huge windows update for that?

There's also a GUI search tool that comes free with Ubuntu Linux that does the same and allows you search on other elements as well - all bazillions of times faster without ever listening to the hard-drive buzz in the background while things slow down due to indexing.

I assume this is yet another thing that XP will do faster than Vista.


r w miller

If all you wanted to do was to find files based on their names then yes a full blown datbase index would be a bit of overkill.

But, if what you want is to find every document, powerpoint presentation and email that CONTAIN the word IPV6 for example in it then that is why you want a faster Windows Search.

As an engineer who has about 10 years worth of old technical emails, documents, presentations and all kinds of odds and ends the ability to easily find files that are relevant to what I am looking for is a very nice feature.

And sorry for day to day corporate work Linux is a joke.


Keith E. Whisman

It seems to me that it would be preferrable to have the search inbedded in the OS. Rather than just searching for what maybe on my desktop I want to search for an item that maybe anywhere on my HDD's. Like linux I don't want to have to tell the OS where to look. Like Linux I want to be able to type a command at the prompt on my C drive that may execute a program on another drive without going to that drive. We get some of that with Vista with command completion like in Linux. With the db that is made for quick searches all this is possible in windows as it's been in Linux for years.

Log in to MaximumPC directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.