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Friday, March 28, 2008

Download Windows Search 4.0

Microsoft has just released a public beta of Microsoft Windows Search 4.0, an update to the existing search technologies in Windows XP and Windows Vista. The knowledge base article lists the main updates as:

Windows Search 4.0 lets you perform an instant search of your computer. Windows Search 4.0 helps you find and preview documents, e-mail messages, music files, photos, and other items on the computer.
The search engine in Windows Search 4.0 is a Microsoft Windows service that is also used by programs such as Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 and Microsoft Office OneNote 2007. You can use this search engine to index a program's content and to obtain instant results when you search in a particular program.
  • Support for the Encrypting File System (EFS)
  • Reduced affect on Microsoft Exchange when you index e-mail in online mode, and there is no local cache (.ost) 
  • Support for indexing online delegate mailboxes
  • Support for client-to-client remote query to shared indexed locations (ie you can search other PCs running Windows Search 4.0)
  • Improved indexing performance
  • Faster preview updates for Windows XP
  • Per-user Group Policy settings
  • Windows software updates for Watson errors
  • Support for the following new enterprise Group Policy objects:

Computer policies

• Prevent adding Universal Naming Convention (UNC) locations to index from Control Panel
• Prevent customizing indexed locations in Control Panel
• Prevent automatically adding shared folders to the index
• Allow for indexing of encrypted files
• Disable indexer back-off
• Prevent clients from querying the index remotely
• Allow for indexing of online delegate mailboxes
• Prevent adding user
• Specified locations to the All Locations menu
• Enable throttling for online mail indexing

Per-user policies

• Prevent adding UNC locations to the index from Control Panel
• Prevent customizing indexed locations in Control Panel
• Prevent indexing certain paths
• Default indexed paths
• Default excluded paths

While this is definitely an update aimed at the enterprise market, most probably removing some disincentives for adoption of Windows Vista too, there are some significant performance benefits to be had for consumers as well.

Installation on Vista took me just a few minutes, and after a reboot the first thing you'll notice is that nothing has changed. No new icon in the system tray, no splash screen on startup, nadda. You'll know something is different when you start a search from the task bar, as results load significantly quicker. Unfortunately I'm unable to search for music files at the moment, but hey that's why the beta tag is on.

This technology is something we've spoken about before over a year ago when Steve Ballmer demoed it as Windows Live Search Center. (Quick recap, it was also called OneView and Casino). As Microsoft PR tell MJF, Windows Search 4 provides an "update to Windows search functionality, while Casino was a research project." It just happened to be a research project did demo at the Worldwide Partner Conference. Download the 32-bit Vista and Windows Server 2008 package now, Download the 32-bit Windows XP package now

Windows Search 4.0 supports the following operating systems:

• 32-bit versions of Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 (SP1)
• All 64-bit versions of Windows Vista with SP1
• 32-bit versions of Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) or a later version
• All 64-bit versions of Windows XP
• Windows Server 2003 with SP2
• All 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003
• Windows Server 2008
• Windows Home Server

The Windows Server 4.0 installation process automatically upgrades Windows Desktop Search (WDS) 2.6 and later versions of WDS. If you are running a version of WDS that is earlier than WDS 2.6, use the Add or Remove Programs tool to remove the earlier version before you install Windows Search 4.0.

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