News Stories Confuse Me: Microsoft Won’t Bundle Desktop Search with Windows


I noticed an eWeek article this morning titled Microsoft Won’t Bundle Desktop Search with Windows which has had me scratching my head all morning. The article contains the following excerpts

Microsoft Corp. has no immediate plans to integrate desktop search into its operating system, a company executive said at a conference here this weekend.

Indeed, while including desktop search in Windows might seem like a logical step to many, “there’s no immediate plan to do that as far as I know,” Kroese said. “That would have to be a Bill G. [Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates] and the lawyers’ decision.”

I thought Windows already had desktop search. In fact, Jon Udell of  Infoworld recently provided a screencast in his blog post Where was desktop search when we needed it? which shows off the capabilities of the built-in Windows desktop search which seems almost on par with the recent offerings from MSN, Google and the like.

Now I’m left wondering what the EWeek article means. Does it mean there aren’t any plans to replace the annoying animated dog  with the MSN butterfly? That Microsoft has access to a time machine and will go back and rip out desktop search from the operating system including the annoying animated dog? Or is there some other obvious conclusion that can be drawn from the facts and the article that I have failed to grasp?

The technology press really disappoints me sometimes.


Comments (6)

  1. Jonathan says:

    Technology press is indeed disappointing. All the times they were covering Google’s "groundbreaking" desktop search program, Windows’s Indexing Service was never mentioned. (Of course, it wasn’t easy to use either…)

  2. G. Man says:

    I assume you are being facetious, but your point is still lost on me. If Microsoft already had a desktop search why would MSN make one?

  3. I suspect it is because few people knew about or used the built-in Windows desktop search because the indexer utilized too much CPU power leading people to shut it off and all the powerful features were only accessible via arcane commands.

    Desktop search is just a fancy new buzzword for the file search functionality that every popular operating system I am aware of already has. The fact that Google, MSN and Yahoo are hyping what is basic operating system functionality notwhitstanding.

  4. TheoEsc says:

    Dude, Windows is my favourite OS… but you must admit the current file search sucks terribly.

    The "find in files" function on the windows search only works intermittently. Sometimes it just silently stops finding things (and no, I haven’t been able to reproduce it).

    There’s no "preview" function of the files you’ve found… something google is a master of. IIRC most of their computing power is taken up just producing that little extract of the chunk of text that matches your search string.

    As you say, the indexing function is very intensive, especially on slow machines. Lots of people switch it off first thing.

    Boolean search functionality is obscure and hard to find.

    I actually use the FINDSTR command from the command line most of the time. At least FINDSTR /s /i /c:"blah" brings up the line you’re looking for. Main bugbear: you can’t use it for UNC paths without mapping a drive, something I need to do all the time.

    And please don’t say install grep or cygwin! Not on all the different machines I have to work with.

    I also waste loads of time running incredibly slow searches on my Outlook mailbox. Then running the same search again on the Outlook ARCHIVE because you can’t search both at once! And why isn’t that integrated with desktop search? If google can do it, why can’t you?

    Microsoft badly need to:

    1. Integrate FINDSTR with windows search

    2. Have preview functionality

    3. Allow EASY boolean search

    4. Integrate with Outlook

    None of this is your area I know. But "desktop search" on Windows is really not up to scratch at all.

    It’s true they’re hyping basic functionality. But it’s basic functionality Windows doesn’t have.

  5. domovoi says:

    "But it’s basic functionality Windows doesn’t have."

    Yes it does, you (and many other people) just never realized it. Read the article Dare linked to, it has a short filmg demoing Indexing Service.

    http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2005/01/25.html#a1157

  6. domovoi: see my specific comments. Especially regarding preview, which Indexing Search doesn’t have at all. Until it does, even FINDSTR is preferable since you can see what phrase matches your search.

    Also you might want to do some reading about how Google works. They’ve got about 100,000 servers storing multiple copies of the whole text of their crawled web, in memory. Why? They don’t need that for searching: all they need for that is an index. The reason they need all that power is so that they can show a preview: that little extract of matching text.

    The preview is an essential part of searching: in practice you almost always get more than a couple of matching results, and opening up each document separately to see if it’s the one you want greatly increases the total time of the task.

    It may have been meant sarcastically, but MSN search now has nice preview functionality: maybe you SHOULD get the MSN boys to rewrite Windows search…