Bug Vanquisher

26 April 2007

Windows Search in Windows Vista

Filed under: Windows Vista — Tanveer Badar @ 4:29 PM

Where to begin? Searching in Windows has always been a laugh. When tired of working, press Win + F and see that abomination of an animation, the dog. Failing to find results; continuing search even after pressing Stop; window not closing instantly; slow performance. The list goes on and on. Then, there was another beauty hidden behind the scenes. The indexing service [aka. cisvc/cidaemon]. Though it performed very well when uninterrupted and indexed whatever you threw at it. It had one major problem. Index rebuilds. Whenever power failed, on the next startup, indexing service threw away everything and started from scratch. Before I installed a UPS at home, I would have manually searched for a document rather than rely on indexing service/built-in search to do the job.

Windows Desktop Search tried to address most of these issues. It found everything and much more, performance was really fast, really reading from an index instead of going to every file and folder. No more behind the scene searches. But it had this big problem, not supporting full query language like indexing service did. You had to restrict yourself to just one boolean operator at a time. There was no way to compose another search out of some preexisting ones. Another big issue is if you lose power, you lose the index sometimes. It starts building from scratch upon next boot.

Windows Search in Windows Vista seems to finally overcome this final obstacle, although it does not integrate that well with general file types. Most thoroughly supported files are from Office 2007 suite. You can do things like query composition, apply any number of boolean operators in a query, save a search, do post query filtering by many attributes like name, type, size, author, categories, tags, created/modified dates etc.

Windows Search still has some missing functionality, the result of dropping out of WinFS from Windows Vista. It cannot relate user data yet. Support for attaching arbitrary meta-data to any file or folder is missing. That’s where Office 2007 suite shines most because it natively supports meta-data properties like author, title, subject, comments, categories, tags etc. You can also use most of these with pictures but that’s it.

Until WinFS ships at whatever stage of my life, I will gladly embrace it. I am way too much addicted to searching on meta-data, attaching arbitrary properties, setting authors, keywords, categories, tags on documents.

As a work around I am working on something.

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