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 .

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