Microsoft releases Windows Search 4.0 preview

If you've ever searched for files or applications on Windows Vista, you've used Microsoft's Windows Search engine. The tool is one of Vista's main selling points, allowing users to quickly find applications, documents, data inside documents, e-mails, music, pictures, and so on. Microsoft has now released a preview of the next version of Windows Search, which is numbered 4.0. According to a post by Microsoft Product Manager Nick White on the Windows Vista Blog, the preview already brings a significant number of improvements, including bug fixes and better performance.

White says the Windows Search 4.0 preview fixes "most" of the bugs users have reported for the version of Windows Search that shipped with Windows Vista. On the performance front, users running the preview can expect a speed-up of 33% in query response times compared to the original Vista version. The Windows Search Team has also made the following changes:

  • The Windows Search Team has extended Remote Index Discovery for PC-to-PC search to work on every supported version of Windows. . . . Now Windows Search can find information shared on a remote PC by accessing an index on that PC - and you will open files only when relevant to your search. This will also work if the user's profile is redirected.
  • The Windows Search Team has implemented Rollback Recovery where your search index will roll back to the last known good state (this is good in handling disc write errors). If an error occurs, your index isn't rebuilt from scratch; only the newly changed files are added to the index, making recovery from system errors not as disruptive to the machine or the user
  • We have improved performance when indexing Exchange in online mode, sending fewer packets and making less RPC calls. In this process we apply significantly less load on the Exchange server too.
  • Support for Group Policy settings is extended and improved; per-user policy is supported now.
  • We now support EFS - Windows Search 4.0 will index encrypted files, and user can search for them in the sane UI and through the same user experience as seen with regular, unencrypted files.
  • You can download the Windows Search 4.0 preview from this page. Releases for Windows Vista x86, Windows Vista x64, Windows XP, and Windows XP Professional x64 are available, as are versions for Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 operating systems. This being a preview, though, users should probably not install it on production systems.

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