Jealous of Windows Vista's lightning-fast instant desktop search? Sick and tired of Rover, the lame-o Windows XP search companion and his equally boring friends? What you need, my Windows XP loyalist, is Windows Desktop Search for Windows XP.
Windows Desktop Search (WDS) is now in version 3.01, and you can get it free from the Microsoft Download Center.
You must have Windows XP SP2 to download WDS, and (as you might expect by now), it's only available to users with a genuine Windows XP SP2 installation. The download size ranges from 4.7MB to 9.4MB, and you can download either an .exe or an .msi (Windows installation file) version: your choice. The current version, 3.01, replaces earlier versions, and if you're using MS Office 2007 or OneNote 2007, it provides integrated indexing. If you're already using Windows Desktop Search, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base article 917013 to learn more about what's new and improved, and to find links to versions for Windows Server 2003 and x64 Windows XP, as well as a multilingual user interface pack.
After you install WDS, it doesn't change your desktop much: you'll see a small search window on the right end of the taskbar. But, enter a search phrase, and WDS instantly brings up matching files on your system. Search results are divided into various categories, such as Pictures and Videos, Communications (email), Files, and Everything. Each search item is identified with the appropriate icon for the file type.
Click the Web button, and Windows Live Search opens in your browser window to bring you matches from around the world.
Press Enter after performing a search, and the search results are displayed in the Windows Desktop Search dialog.
The right pane provides a preview of the file contents, and you can use the buttons above the file and preview panes to filter matching files by type.
When you install WDC, it sends Rover and the rest of his friends to the sidelines. When you click Search from the Windows Start menu, WDC offers the same supercharged file search you can perform from the desktop, along with options to filter by size, date, folder and other settings. If you get lonely for Rover, scroll down to the bottom of the dialog, and you can bring him back for an encore.
Essentially, WDC gives Windows XP users the major features of Vista's Instant Desktop Search in a fast, free package. Whether you're planning to move to Vista in the near future or are looking for more reasons to stay with XP for the foreseeable future, Windows Desktop Search brings faster, better, smarter searches to Windows XP.