Windows Desktop Search

One of the points of feedback has been about disabling services and optionally installing components—we’ve talked about our goals in this area in previous posts.  A key driver around wanting this type of control (but not the only driver) is a perception around performance and resource consumption of various platform components.  A goal of Windows is to provide a reliable and consistent platform for developers—one where they can count on system services as being available, as well as a set of OS features that all customers have the potential to benefit from.  At the same time we must do so in a way that is efficient in system resource usage—efficient enough so the benefit outweighs the cost.  We recognize that some percentage of customers believe solving this equation can only be done manually—much like some believe that the best car performance can only come from manual transmission.  For this post we’re going to look into the desktop search functionality from the perspective of the work we’re doing as both a broadly available platform component and to provide the rich end-user functionality, and also look at the engineering tradeoffs involved and techniques we use to build a great solution for everyone.  Chris McConnell, a principal SDE on the Find and Organize team, contributed this post.  --Steven

Are you one of those folks who believes that search indexing is the cause of your drive light flashing like mad? Do you believe this is the reason you’re getting skooled when playing first person shooters with friends? If so, this blog post is for you! The Find and Organize team owns the ‘Windows Search’ service, which we simply refer to as the ‘indexer’. A refrain that we hear from some Vista power-users is they want to disable the indexer because they believe it is eating up precious system resources on their PC, offering little in return. Per our telemetry data, at most about 1.5% of Vista users disable the indexing service, and we believe that this perception is one motivator for doing so.

The goal of this blog post is to clarify the role of the indexer and highlight some of the work that has been done to make sure the indexer uses system resources responsibly. Let’s start by talking about the function of the indexing service – what is it for? why should you leave it running?

Why Index?

Today’s PCs are filled with many rich types of files, such as documents, photos, music, videos, and so on. The number of files people have on their PC is growing at a rapid pace, making it harder and harder for them to find what they’re looking for, no matter how organized their files may (or may not) be. Increasingly, these files contain a good deal of structure, with metadata properties which describe their contents. A typical music file contains properties which describe the artist, album name, year of release, genre, duration of the song, and others which can be very useful when searching for music.

Although search indexing technologies date back to the early days of Windows, With Windows Vista Microsoft introduced a consumer operating system that brought this functionality to mainstream users more prominently. Prior to Vista, searching was pretty rudimentary – often a brute force crawl through the files on your machine, looking only at simple file properties such as file name, date modified, and size, or an application specific index of application specific data. Within Windows, a more comprehensive search option allowed you to also examine the contents of the files, but this wasn’t widely used. It was fairly basic functionality – it treated all files just the same, without the tapping in to the rich metadata properties available in the files.

In Windows Vista, the indexing service is on by default and includes expanded support in terms of the number of file formats and properties which are indexed. The indexer watches specific folders on your PC and catalogues their contents to facilitate fast searching of those files. When Windows indexes your music files, it also knows how to extract the music-specific properties which you’re most likely to search for. This enables support for more powerful searches and richer views over your files which wasn’t possible before. But this indexing doesn’t come free, and this is where engineering gets interesting. There’s a non-zero cost (in terms of system resources) that has to be paid to enable this functionality, and there are trade-offs involved in when and how you pay that price. There is nothing unique to indexing—all features have this cost-benefit tradeoff. 


Many search solutions follow(ed) the traditional “grep” model which means every search will read all of the files you wanted to search. In this case, you paid with your time as you waited for the search to execute. The more files you searched, the longer you waited each time you searched. If you wanted to perform the same search again, you would “pay” again. And the value you were getting in return wasn’t very good since the search functionality wasn’t particularly powerful. With Windows Vista , the indexer tries to read all of your files before you search so that when you search, it’s generally quicker and more responsive. This requires the indexer to scan all of your files just once initially, and not each and every time you perform a search. If the file were to change, the indexer would receive a notification (a “push” event) so that it could read that file again. When the indexer reads a file, it extracts the pertinent information about the file to enable more powerful searches and views. The challenge is to do this quickly enough so that the index is always up to date and ready for you to search, but also doing so in such a way that it doesn’t impact the performance of your system in a negative way. This is always a balancing act requiring trade-offs, and there are a number of things the indexer does to maintain its standing as a good Windows citizen while working to make sure that the index is always up-to-date.

A Model Citizen

A lot of work has gone into making the indexer be a model Windows citizen. We’ve written an extensive whitepaper on the issue, but it’s worth covering some of the highlights here. First and foremost, the indexer only monitors certain folders, which limits the amount of work it needs to do to just those files that you’re most likely to search. The indexer also “backs off” when you are actively using your PC. It indexes files more slowly, or stops entirely depending on the level of activity on the PC. When the indexer is reading files it uses low priority I/O and CPU and immediately releases the file if another application needs access.

It’s critical that we get all of these issues right for the indexer, because it’s not only important for the features that our team builds (like Windows Search), but it’s important to the Windows platform as a whole. There are a host of applications which require the ability to search file contents on the PC. Imagine if each one of those applications built their own version of the indexer! Even if all of these applications did a great job, there will be a lot of unnecessary and redundant activity happening on your PC. Every time you saved one of your documents there will be a flurry of activity as these different indexers rushed to read the new version. To combat that, the indexer is designed to do this work for any application which might choose to use it and provide an open platform and API with flexibility and extensibility for developers. The API designed to be flexible enough to meet needs across the Windows ecosystem. Out of the box, the indexer has knowledge of about 200 common file types, cataloging nearly 400 different properties by default. And there is support for applications to add new file types and properties at any time. Applications can also add support for indexing of data types that aren’t file-based at all, like your e-mail. Just a few of the applications that are leveraging the indexer today are Microsoft Office Outlook and OneNote, Lotus Notes, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Internet Explorer 8, and Google Desktop Search. As with all extensible systems, developers often find creative uses for components for the system services. One example of this is the way the Tablet PC components leverage the index contents to improve handwriting accuracy.

Constantly Improving

We’re constantly working to improve the indexer’s performance and reliability. Version 3 shipped in Windows Vista.  Major improvements in this version included:

  • The indexer runs as a system service vs. as a per user process.  This minimizes impact on multi-user scenarios e.g. only one catalog per system results in reduction in catalog size and prevents re-indexing of the same content over and over.  Additional benefit is gained from the robust nature of services.

  • The indexer employs low priority I/O to minimize impact of indexing on responsiveness of PC.  Before Windows Vista, all I/O was treated equally.

We’ve already released Windows Search version 4 as an enhancement to either Windows XP or Vista which goes even further in terms of performance and stability improvements, such as:

  • Significant improvements across the board for queries which involve sorting, filtering or grouping. Example improvements on Vista include:

    1. Getting all results while sorting or grouping has been improved. Typical query improvements  are up to 38% faster.

    2. CPU time has been reduced by 80%

    3. Memory usage has been reduced by 20%

  • Load on Exchange servers is reduced over 95% when Outlook is running in online mode.  With previous versions of Windows Search, large numbers of Outlook clients running in online mode could easily overwhelm the Exchange server.

  • Reliability improvements including:

    1. We made a number of fixes to address user-reported situations that previously caused indexing to stop working.

    2. We improved the indexer’s ability to both prevent and recover from index corruptions.  Now, when catalog corruption is detected it is always rebuilt automatically – previously this only happened in certain cases.

    3. We added new logging and events to help track down and fix reliability issues.

And we’ve done even more to improve performance and reliability for the indexer in Windows 7 which you’ll soon see at the PDC. If you still believe that the indexer is giving you trouble, we’ve got a few things for you to try:

  • Download and install Windows Search 4 (on Vista or XP).

  • Download and install the Indexer Gadget from the Windows Live Gadget Gallery (Vista only). This gadget was written by one of our team members, and gives you a quick way to view the number of items indexed. It also allows you to pause indexing, or to make it run full-speed (without backing off).

  • If you‘re one of those people who like to get under the hood of the car and poke around the engine, you can use the Windows Task manager and/or Resource Monitor to monitor the following processes: SearchIndexer, SearchFilterHost, SearchProtocolHost.

If you feel as though your system is slow, and you suspect the indexer is the culprit, watch the gadget as you work with your PC. Is the number of indexed items changing significantly when you’re experiencing problems? If you pause the indexer, does your system recover? We’re always looking to make our search experience better, so if you are still running into issues, we want to hear about them. Send your feedback to

Chris McConnell

Find and Organize

Comments (141)

  1. lyesmith says:

    Isn’t Windows Search 4 part of Windows Update? If not why not? Especially when WS3 part of Vista

  2. domenico says:

    I love Windows Search 4  on Vista!

    Research of any document is always accurate.

  3. spivonious says:

    I love Windows Search in Vista at home.  Is there anyway I can replace XP’s default search with Windows Search 4?  I use XP at work, and searching for files in painfully slow.  

    I can’t stand the searchbox in the taskbar and would like to have it appear more integrated with XP.

  4. ignitedfirestarter says:

    Desktop search is great, however I still think more could be done. Would be even better if I could choose the indexing level. For example, I want the contents of ‘Documents’ and ‘Music’ to be indexed in depth; however I often just want to find a file to which I have the name in a non-indexed location such as ‘Program Files’. It’s crazy that I can search the text of a word document quicker than I can find an executable in a bin folder!

  5. d_e says:

    Don’t bother making l33t g4m0rs happy. They often "know" inaccurate facts and will happily create useless registry keys because they think they’ll make Windows go faster. They would turn off Search Indexer even if wouldn’t have a measurable impact.

    Joe Average is slowly realizing that a blinking HDD LED doesn’t mean a slow system – thanks to the I/O scheduler in Vista.

    And Windows Search 4 doesn’t slow XP anymore like its predecessor. Even when indexing my +2GB PST-file… 🙂

    But Vista itself is not very I/O efficient. Instead of improving the indexer (which is good enough already) try to optimize 7 to need less and shorter I/O requests. Improve read-ahead (Anticipatory scheduling, anyone?). Reduce disk footprint of 7 by orders of magnitude. Resuming from hibernate can take ages on machines with lots of RAM.

  6. Laith says:

    Great blog explaining the pros and cons of the Windows Search.

  7. lyesmith says:

    Windows Search is nice and fast. What i missing is an advanced search UI. Where you can specify date, size, text in document, text in filename, extension, < > = relations, compare function etc.

    Id it is exist in vista than you need to make it more accessible.

    More responsive file system, ability to rename file while open aliases etc would be nice.

    But again. These are Vista features. What is new in Win 7. what will be the edge? Why should people switch to Win 7 from Vista or XP?

    With all these blog entries I can not see what will make the Win 7 a unique experience. What we are talking about here are design tweaks not fundamental changes.

  8. AlexJerebtsov says:

    I think the trouble with the perceived performance hit with the indexer isn’t the indexer’s fault at all. It’s that while the indexer is well behaved, years and years of "background" scan services such as antivirus apps, or 3rd party search indexers have set a bad reputation towards anything that’s perceived to do intensive work in the background.

    Vista’s indexer is by far the most well behaved background scanner I’ve seen. Contrast that with, for example, Nero Scout, which I’ve had to disable on every single machine that came with Nero preinstalled, ever. Or any antivirus software in existence. In general, anything that tries to do anything else while I’m already doing something will be perceived as Bad ™.

    Even in Vista. I remember, back before SP1 came out, one of my Vista machines would occasionally just sit there for hours, grinding away at the HD for no apparent reason. It wasn’t using any CPU, and the culprit was some obscure service running from svchost, making it impossible to figure out from the task manager exactly what was it doing.

    It didn’t cause any substantial slowdown, but just the fact it was doing something, and I couldn’t even tell what it was, really ticked me off. And just because it was grinding away, everything "felt" slower because I’m mentally trained to associate "hard drive grinding noise" with "load/wait sequence".

    To this day, I still don’t know what it was doing.

    I am curious as to how Windows determines it’s a good time to scan. It wouldn’t be just mouse and keyboard input… Maybe it would check if any DirectX apps are running? Background services? File IO? But then how would it detect other background scanners?

  9. RuslanUrban says:

    How does the indexer affect power usage on laptops? Even with power settings tuned for maximum power savings the same laptop with a fresh install of Windows Vista was getting 30-40% less time out of fully charged battery compared to Windows XP with the same set of programs. Another factor that contributes to the increased power usage in Vista is the graphics, but hard drive also drains considerable amount of power, especially in in seek mode.

    I am also curious to see statistics of how frequently people use search. Based on my experience, some people use it maybe once a month, and some don’t even know that such functionality is available. Does it worth having the indexer working all the time? Does the speed of search out weight the increased power consumption over the lifetime of a computer?

    Would it make sense to enable the indexer only for specific programs, or when a specific type of search used for the first time?

  10. domenico says:


    Many many thank’s to Brandon P. for Gadget index 😉

  11. Bjartr says:

    It was briefly mentioned in an earlier comment, but levels of indexing thoroughness would be usefull. High detail indexing in Documents, and low detail indexing in Program Files, or even past a certain folder depth maybe?

  12. CRMMario says:

    Windows Search is a good approach, very useful, but Finder has more good looking, maybe a mix, like Windows Search for fast search and some like finder for advanced search would be great…

  13. says:

    No need to index Program Files, since it indexes the Start Menu folder. Put a link in there and you are good. Who would want it to come up with all the support files??

  14. Prixsel says:

    Hard drives have default cluster size 4kb what means files get fragmented very easily into many millions of pieces. No wonder people get slow results with xp ,Vista has defragmenter integrated into weekly schedule whats a good things but it’s intelligence and lack of boottime system file defrag and optimize placements won’t give much horse power back into HDD.

    Programs could be smaller and with new standards , boot time system file optimizer should be scheduled with automatic updates with junk cleaner , visuals should have minimal impact and be wiser when PC gets low on ram or process power… Tons of stuff that should be invented and made into perfection…

    Glad that since Vista there was new rules for IO management, MFT defragment enabled , system restore from last session, new program prefetch but 5gigs and slow on older systems was big drawback and only hope is do wait how things finally will be given for new demanding users.

  15. smartpatrol says:

    Whenever i build a PC with Windows the two things i shutoff first is the Indexing service and system restore. Fact is i rarely if ever search for files on my home PC at work mostly i search for mail items and for that i don’t mind the short wait. Be nice if windows had a feature like locate on Linux its fast and effective after the initial scan.

  16. PRab says:

    I agree that Windows Desktop search is nice, but why does it need an icon in my taksbar? See the previous posts in this blog. (If there is an option to turn it off, I have missed it).

    Also, It needs a way to fall back to traditional searching. After installing it, I can’t find a way to search my Windows and Program Files directories. This is necessary for some tasks, such as manual virus removal.

  17. Fritzly says:

    Thanks for the explanation about how "Search" works.

    My biggest concern is not related to performance slowdown as much as GUI and results of searches:

    If I choose to search "Everywhere" and check the option to include "Non indexed, hidden etc. etc." the search never ends; what I mean is that I have the progress bar hanging almost at the end…forever ( I tested up to 24 hours).

    Others have already posted about the issue about Vista and laptop batteries so I will not go there; what I wish to see back in WIndows 7 is "Virtual Folders". They were a great concept and I would like to see them back the same way they were implemented.

    Virtual Folders alone would be enough for me to move to Windows 7 without delays.

    Thanks again


  18. gss4w says:

    I don’t doubt that WDS tries to efficiently balance the resources available for indexing files.  However, I have several problems with it:

    1) The UI is less powerful than what is available in Windows 2000, XP, 2003, particularly for searching non-indexed locations.  In XP it is very easy to right-click on a folder and use advanced search options to find a particular file.  This is often useful for people working in IT in particular, and for others as well.

    2) On my Vista system at home the hard drive seems to be constantly running, this is not the case with XP. I think that search is probably only one component of this, but it adds to the perception that Vista is a resource hog (even with low priority I/O, etc.).  

    3) Another UI comment, that is only peripherally related to search, is the feature where Vista tries to automatically determine how to display folder detail information.  In my experience this does not work well for how I want to store files.  I would like to always have details view with standard details like name, size, date modified.  However, Vista changes the selected details based what files are in a folder.  This does not work well for me because I often have folders with different types of files and the details that Vista chooses to display are not the ones I want.  The reason I’m mentioning this problem in response to this blog post, is because it is an example of system customization problems in Vista (which this post talked about).  

  19. L33tMasta says:

    As a "l33t g4m3r" I find myself very pleased with Vista. I think you guys are doing a great job developing Windows 7.

  20. domenico says:


    Windows Search is Great but you Wont Eye candy 😉

    Feedback resolved 😀

  21. manicmarc says:

    I’ve never had my system going slow due to search (to my knowledge). I very rarely use it for anything more than a filename search. Old habbits I guess.

  22. Hairs says:

    However good windows search gets, and however well you manage to optimise it, the simple fact is that windows is doing it backwards.

    There should be no background indexing at all. No matter how much you minimise it, it’s there. What *should* have happened is that a new file system should have been created where updating the index was part of the file create/modify API. That would mean you *always* had an up to date index, and the system would *never* need to be scanned.

    Of course, if Vista had a proper explorer, you wouldn’t need to search in the first place….

  23. WindowsFanboy says:

    @ lyesmith:

    Yes, Windows Search 4 is part of Windows Update. He put the download link for those with Windows Update disabled.

  24. says:

    The biggest disappointment in Windows Vista for search has been its user interface. The Start menu search is nice, the indexed search integrated in Explorer also works well. What I don’t like very much is the real-time non-indexed search which is slower than what used to be in XP, and the UI for non-indexed advanced search is very minimal and depends upon users to memorize the advanced search query syntax.

    Simple features like specifying where to search are too deep inside the UI, several others e.g. you cannot specify a date range from the UI, searching by file extension aren’t exposed in the GUI. Users hate to remember the search syntax especially when it is so flexible and comprehensive. I just want a simple UI which exposes all the search features which isn’t in Vista’s search UI and this is what keeps me from using Advanced search and instead use third-party utilities, though the Start menu search and integrated search UI in Explorer is useful and awesome. XP also very conveniently allowed starting the Search Explorer pane by one click from the toolbar button which was unfortunately taken away in Windows Vista. Lesson to learn is make the search GUI very flexible, customizable, comprehensive and productive-not taking too many clicks and Browse boxes.

  25. gonzc900 says:

    Since we are on the topic of search, what would be nice if if we can chose weather or not to have the search in the start menu or on the desktop it self, even on the taskbar would be nice..

  26. SlyEcho says:

    One thing that I don’t understand is that if I search for files in the start menu, it will show the most relevant match in the top, which is good; but if I press enter it pops up another window, which is not what I want: I want to it open the most relevant file. Just like it does when I search for programs.

  27. marcinw says:


    main task for operating system is running programs. we can read about everything on this blog, but not about the most important things.

    Steven, please speak about concretes… What will be changes in system to make this main function better (faster, more secure, etc.) ? Does your silence mean, that nothing ?

  28. domenico says:



    13 day and Windows 7 disclouse 😀

  29. VistaLover says:

    marcinw, you aren’t the only windows user in the world, other users care about these things, they will probably address what you care about in a future post, so wait till then to make your unclever slashdotian comments, please.

  30. Pendragon says:

    Call me old school but I know where I put stuff on my PC. Back from the DOS days, you had to know where your stuff was!

    It’s a bit of a no brainer isn’t it??? Make a new directory call it something sensible, next time you need it there it is…

    I think "Search" is great when I’m working on other peoples pooters. One of the most common things I hear is "I downloaded that file but I can’t find it!" So yea, great feature give the numptys a comprehensive search tool. I wonder what these peoples offices are like, a pile of papers thrown in the general direction of the filling cabinet…

    Why not meet us half way if we can’t get rid of it because other apps may depend on it. Then please let us have some control. You can put the controls in "Administrative Tools" if you like. Just let us schedule the indexing and hide the search box on the menu. Out of sight out of mind.

    To be honest most of these issues where power users want control but MS for the reasons of dependency need the item not to be disabled, could be dealt with by putting something in the "Administrative Tools".

    Save us having to fire up regedit and make our own nips and tucks. Because you *know* that we are going to do just that. The end result will be that some of us will be running a version of Windows that simply isn’t what you intend.

  31. gonzc900 says:

    @ pndragon

    many people have large Hard drives with thousands of files. search does well. Search has been in windows for a long time, and it wont ever go away, not now with the 500GB and even 1TB hard drives

  32. drjt87 says:

    I personally dislike desktop search. While I don’t have any problems with performance or space issue, I do have a problem with security. There is always a slightly higher chance that security is compromised by extra services or that my files can potentially be known from the index.

    The main reason why I don’t like using desktop search is because of how rare I search. And whenever I do search, I usually restrict it to a specific folder so there’s really no problem with time.

    While I can see why some people would like this feature, personally, I would prefer an option while installing Windows to remove desktop search (and all the other Windows programs and services I never use, like Help, Calendar, Mail, Media Player, Messenger, etc.) I have seen nLite, but that doesn’t seem to work properly for me, but its close to what I desire from Windows.

  33. toonnyc says:

    Sorry, but I’m still too mad about you guys using WSUS to push Windows Search on all my machines to even think about downloading Windows Search 4.

  34. steven_sinofsky says:

    @marcinw — We think we’ve been trying to write about topics critical to a modern OS–the launching of programs, managing windows, booting the OS, graphics subsystem, and storage are all things I believe you would find as "core" parts of a modern OS beyond processes, scheduling, memory management, and so on (all of which are darn important as well and also part of an OS).  

    In the first post we described how the PDC and WinHEC are the events where we will provide the in-depth look at the features of Windows 7 (and attendees will get the code).  This blog set out to "provide context over the next 2+ months with regular posts about the behind the scenes development of the release and continue through the release of the product."  

    Once code is out there we will start to blog more regularly about the details of the release that are supported in the code.

    I hope that makes sense,


  35. Dean Harding says:

    I think many of the people who disable the search service are those same people who read those dodgy "optimize your PC" guides which recommend you disable all kinds of services (I’ve seen ones which recommend *disabling* "Windows Installer"!)

  36. gonzc900 says:

    Windows will always have problems untill a total rewrite comes in to play.

    By rewrite I mean start off with a brand new code from scrartch

  37. Dean Harding says:

    Ha, yeah, because a rewrite from scratch ALWAYS makes things better…

  38. hami1car says:

    I’m a big fan of fast search, but there are a couple of things on Vista that I’d like to see improved.

    1. I really hate attempting to double-click on search results, only to have the one I’m clicking on change position in the list before I hit it with the mouse, so I launch the wrong file. They should just come up in whatever order the search finds them, and I’ll resort later if needed.

    2. Search folders: These are too slow (and I’m on a quad-cpu x64 rig). I’ve set up a custom one as a sidebar link to pull up my recent project folders so I don’t have to navigate through a drive full of them. However, it takes so long to pull this up, that I can probably find it faster without. Is it possible to have the system run this periodically in the background and cache the results so it would be instant? (then update it on a click only if the results change? or something?) Macs have a way of seeing recently accessed folders from open/save dialogs that is basically instant. It would be nice if Windows had a way of doing that.

    3. That annoying "Searches might be slow" warning is really irritating on every single search. That should really go away, so if I don’t want to index a folder I’m not pestered to do so.

  39. adondai says:

    haha, gonzc900, stop reading lame tech blogs and go find something else to do… this ‘rewrite’ rubbish has been going around for years…

    Anyway, personally I love search, but can definetly see need for improvement, although most of that has been covered in the above comments.

    What I would like to see more than anything is instant search results when searching just the start menu and user accounts.

    If I’m trying to locate a folder somewhere I’m okay with waiting, but when I want to launch Word I just wanna push start, type ‘word’ and launch it, no waiting for 3-5 seconds…

    Also a little more intuitivness would be nice as well… for example search learning mis-spellings in a similar way as Launchy does… so if I type ‘wrod’ I still get ‘Word’ found…

    Also things like if you type "uninstall programs" you won’t get anything, you have to type "programs and features" or "features" whatever…. the point is it’s probably not the most user-friendly… for people just wanting to uninstall programs typing that would make sense…

  40. gkeramidas says:

    Maybe you can shed some light on this:

    I have some excel code that runs for about 20 seconds, in office 2003 (about 33 seconds in office 2007, but that’s another story)

    While it’s running, I run russinovich’s process monitor to see what’s happening. Well, out of 15,438 events, 7103 of the events are search related. 6317 are related to searchindexer.exe. I thought it was supposed to be dormant while the computer was busy?

    You want the logfile, I’ll gladly send it to whoever wants to analyze it.

  41. domenico says:

    Excuse me OT!

    Name of Windows 7 =

    Nice!! I love this name  , thank’s 😀

  42. says:

    I for one was not very happy with the indexing and search features in XP. When Vista came out I was fairly happy with the improved performance.

    My only hesitation with using WDS is, as others have mentioned, the GUI. While the performance has been a bonus and decrease the time/resources spent finding files I have often found the interface a pain when trying more advanced searches.

    Trying to explain how to use this feature to less computer savy clients has often left them confused.

    I am looking forward to seeing a more user friendly interface with streamlined access to advanced functions in Windows 7.

  43. Gigaplex says:

    The Indexer Gadget is one of a select few that are actually useful. The only problem I have with it is that I’ve never had a problem with the indexing and have had heaps of problems with Superfetch (more to follow). This gadget has wet my lips and left me wanting one for Superfetch.

    Superfetch doesn’t appear to have a concept of file sizes from my experience. I have 2GB of RAM, of which typically 1GB is used for caching. Superfetch trawls my hard drives and notices a folder I accessed once the day before. The folder has 4 DVD ISO’s and decides to try to cache 2 of them. Using the Resource Monitor I can tell that the service is reading the full 6GB of ISO’s into memory, noticing the cache is full, and writes 6GB worth of data to pagefile.sys. I’m assuming the remaining cache in RAM is the tail end of one of the ISO’s which is not particularly useful.

    I was running a couple of virtual machines and tried to launch a third, and noticed a huge performance hit as I ran out of RAM. The system slowed to a crawl as I was thrashing to pagefile.sys. After eventually being able to kill off one of the virtual machines, I expected the system to become more responsive. I watched in horror as Superfetch came along and started filling up the RAM that was just freed instead of having the working set of data in pagefile.sys being pulled back into memory.

    Superfetch has caused more problems than it is worth for me. I would like to be able to turn it off, but I have been unsuccessful in finding a solution to stop it. Disabling the service doesn’t appear to have an effect. I can see how it would be useful when there are a few small commonly used program files and a small amount of data, but it doesn’t seem to do a good job of deciding what to load. Disk IO is a precious resource, it shouldn’t be unnecessarily abused in order to speed up other operations.

    Steven, can you try to make sure that a Superfetch article is done sometime soon?

  44. mprobins says:

    I have to second the hate on Superfetch.

    After I first installed Vista I noticed that the hdd was constantly thrashing.  CONSTANTLY, as in every minute of every day, nothing but hdd activity.

    The level of activity made the system responsiveness incredibly unpredictable.  Sometimes I could open an application right away, other times the hdd would just thrash a bit harder for 20 seconds while I waited.

    At first I figured Vista was just indexing everything and it would eventually settle down.  But no … a month later and the madness continued.

    So I started disabling services.  I first disabled the index service.  Then I disabled superfetch.  Suddently the hdd stopped thrashing, and the slugishness was gone.

    Months later I re-enabled the indexing service because I needed to search my inbox in Outlook.  Much to my surprise, the hdd didn’t start thrashing and the slughishness did not return.  So I’ve left it on, somewhat happier that I can now search for things.

    So for the love of Pete, could someone please fix superfetch?  🙂

  45. lyesmith says:

    Right, indexing is actually a nice thing. I would like to see a better UI for those panels. dockable, pinable,and shortcuts etc.

    But also would be good if you post an article about the accessories you have in windows. i.e. Notepad, Wordpad, Calculator, Paint, system tools etc.

    They were ridiculously outdated even in XP not talking about Vista. Ugly Win 95 UI and lacking modern features. OS-vise there are tons of features that should be accessible from everywhere.

    I understand that big revenue comes from Office, but Notepad, Wordpad is a joke.

  46. har0ld says:

    WDS is great. I use it since the 2.6 version on XP. Now I’m on Vista since a couple of weeks.

    I didn’t understand why on XP WDS 4 couldn’t let you set your shortcut to the wds search box as you were able to in the previous version. WDS 4 indexes a lot better but not letting users choose something like this is lame. I hated that (workaround: install 2.6, set shortcuts then install 4.0).

    One of the awesomeness of WDS was that "everything launcher" you could set up.

    I was crazy to say the least that Vista doesn’t have this feature, I had to download a third party tool just to behave like WDS 2.6.

    So for Windows7, Desktop Search feature list:

    -WDS mappable on the shortcut I want.

    -WDS ui can be set everywhere (to the point of a gadget style 70% transparency window).

    -"everything launcher" back without third parties.

    -WDS capable to understand that when I use this or that app, do not index (should be very useful in a DAW world).


  47. mludwig says:

    I like Vista Search and I use it all the time. I never disabled Indexing nor do I plan to do so, but it made me notice that this latest entry is more like a Vista ad than a Windows 7 engineering blog entry. So let’s get back to the plans for 7, shall we?

    As someone else mentioned, disk IO is a precious resource, especially on today’s laptop hard drives. I am finding myself watching the blinking hdd LED on my laptop ever more often. Whether it’s Superfetch, ReadyBoost or Indexing, they should be more conservative with IO. As soon as ssd goes mainstream, Windows can go and have fun with the drive, but until then some restraint would be beneficial. I had to disable ReadyBoost, for example, because for some reason, it deletes and rebuilds its cache on each and every reboot, causing too much disk activity on startup (2-3 minutes until the desktop is usable). Also, it seems to me that UAC prompts too make the disk go crazy for a few moments.

  48. mludwig says:

    I forgot to mention in my latest comment one last suggestion: integrate Start++ like funtionality into W7 Search customizable with plugins. Default plugins could me made of Windows apps like WMP. Integrating this kind of Search experience with Speech Recognition would make W7 start playing Coldplay when I say "play Coldplay, dammit!".

  49. Digi says:

    Privacy fears might be one reason why people disable indexing service. There are even some privacy tutorials that mentions this. Of course you use need to use something like Eraser to securely wipe files. But is file entry removed from index once you hit delete?

    Index, word has a bad reputation attached to it. Everyone knows (corrupted) index.dat files which don’t get cleared.

    By the way Recycle Bin only offers Empty Recycle Bin option it would be nice to have built in Shred Recycle Bin option also.

  50. lyesmith says:

    2nd that Actually very IMPORTANT.

    SECURE deletion.

  51. wtroost says:

    The "Desktop Search" doesn’t find things I expect it to find, like a text file with a random extension.

    The normal Vista search confuses me.  For example, I can never tell if it’s searching for filenames or actual content.  When I cancel a search and then change the search, I can’t tell if the change got through.  And you can’t see what it’s doing at the moment, the green bar just stands still on the right side of the toolbar.  There’s no status indication like "searching c:windowswinsxs…" which could give you a hint at why it’s taking so long, or confirm that it’s actually looking where you want it to look.

    So (even though it looks like I’m the only one) I just wanted to say that Windows Search isn’t yet very usable for me.

  52. Magumi says:

    I am a translator and I have thousands upon thousands of Office documents on my hard drive; from time to time I need to search for specific words or expressions in documents that are many years old. Theoretically at least, I am the perfect candidate for Windows Desktop Search.

    However, I only use WDS to index programs in the Start menu. For all other searches I prefer Copernic Desktop Search, which has much better UI (for my needs, at least) and the same low-IO priority feature. It has also been available on the market ever since XP SP2, and after Vista SP1 it has even integrated very nicely in the shell. So for me, WDS is too little, too late.

  53. mariosalice says:

    Actually I was very disappointed when I first used Vista’s search.

    Common knowledge from XP.

    We type a word and we expect to get files on the current directory only.

    No way. We get results from any attributes and from all subfolders.

    We insist. There must be a way. We learn we need to know the syntax, enable physical language, use WIN+F interface or advanced search.

    But the syntax is somewhere hidden in the clouds.

    Is there an easy way to search the current dir only?

    We enter advanced search, choose the dir we want, deselect the subfolders one by one. Why???

    Then we try another search and the results are in the clouds again.

    Search just crashes this way.

    We need to close it every time and open it again.

    Spare me.

    Can’t we search a single directory the easy way? How about .*.any, or right click on a folder to search just that folder either like the old good days?

    Search also crashed on me in the past in certain cases (trying to find *.any files in windir conflicted with another program – a theme I think lol).

    The bottom line?

    I love Windows Search 4 on Vista.

    It is just great, despite all the small glitches I mentioned.

    I regret I didn’t insist to find the way it works much earlier.

    Now I use it a lot.

  54. confuzatron says:

    It sounds like, from what people are saying, that WDS has improved massively since XP. I found it so bad that I just instinctively avoid doing search in Windows apart from dumb searching via the command line (normally I’m looking for files by name).

    I will have to give search on Vista a try, to see how its improved.

  55. naren.kernel says:

    well, Windows desktop search 4.0 is pretty good than its predecessor. I would like to suggest a Reverse Engineering Search!. In searching of pictures, suppose that we have a million pictures, say pictures of people. Suppose we are giving a picture of a person, can there be a reverse engineering search where it displays the results according to the relevancy in the matches of the available pictures?!. In short words, we upload a photo and the search engine looks for matches in the available picture and display’s the results!.

  56. PeanutGallary says:

    "The indexer also “backs off” when you are actively using your PC. It indexes files more slowly, or stops entirely depending on the level of activity on the PC. When the indexer is reading files it uses low priority I/O and CPU and immediately releases the file if another application needs access."

    In Windows Media Player this is definitly not true.

    I have set WMP11(Vista) to index my music-folder.

    Whenever i move an album to this directory my harddrive start thrashing and my cpu will start working even if i’m doing other stuff at the same time.

    If i try to rename the direcory just after i’ve copied it i will fail because the directory is being "used" (hmm, indexer maybe?).

    Moving files to other directories goes instantly without thrashing.

  57. Mike Williams says:

    [What is happening to Comment submission here?  have tried 5 times to submit a comment under both FF3 and IE7. Each time the comment "appears" to be received but doesn’t appear. I’m also taken back to the page rather than seeing my comment or some text along the lines of "your comment will be reviewed by a moderator."

  58. Mike Williams says:

    Hmmm – I think there might be a character-limit bug involved here for comment submission. Perhaps a "characters left" field? And please please make this comment box as wide as the comment display area!

  59. Mike Williams says:

    Put it this way, if I was searching for a particular system file on my HDD and I mistyped the name of the file, then it’s faster to query Google, let Google correct the name for me, and then download the file from an internet server, than to wait for Windows Search to find _what I wanted_ on my HDD.

  60. Mike Williams says:

    Vista search features are still very underwhelming for me.

    1. Searching on start menu items is hampered in that it only matches leading substrings e.g. search for ‘stitch’ and ‘Canon Photostitch’ is not found.

    2. Various search elements do not allow for conflation of accented characters. e.g. if I search for music composed by "Handel" then it won’t optionally extend to searching for "Haendel" (I typed the accented a, but this form field is not accepting it). This is an issue within WMP’s search as well – you never know how precise the metadata it downloads is going to be. actually most of WMP’s search and filtering is designed in isolation to everything else that MS does. For example, create a smart-playlist that searches for Artist=X or Composer=X, and it returns a double result-set for every item that satisfies both. That makes a mess of playlists with this doubling or tripling up of some items (Resolved BY DESIGN).

  61. Mike Williams says:

    3. I can’t get it to just Search Everywhere by default. Most often when I can’t find something, it’s because an app has saved or downloaded the file into a hidden or system folder (the program folder or a browser or user cache).

    4. Someone made a point about target folders moving about too quickly so you can’t click on what you want. This bugged the hell out of me until I reordered "Recent Places" by Date instead of by Name. However because Vista can’t hold onto any shell customization for more than half an hour, that quickly reverted.

    5. Performance: quite often it is faster for me to open a CMD window, type dir /s *.txt and get the result thus than to wade through the mess of Search Window results which bring back full-text results when I just want file names.

  62. Mike Williams says:

    6. It really peeves me that you don’t attempt to suggest alternate search strings based on keywords in the index (to cover cases like "wrod" above). Considering that I + one dev created a query control that did this look up AND did red-squiggle spell-checking AND did it multi-lingually back in 1997. Oh and yes it shipped as part of Picture It! image search and Office Clip Art gallery search a full decade ago.

    Put it this way, if I was searching for a particular system file on my HDD and I mistyped the name of the file, then it’s faster to query Google, let Google correct the name for me, and then download the file from an internet server, than to wait for Windows Search to find _what I wanted_ on my HDD.

  63. divinglog says:

    I would like to see 2 menu items when I right click a folder in Explorer:

    "Add this folder to search index" – Quickly add new folders including subfolders

    "Re-index this folder" – When I think that not all files were found by Windows Search

    And maybe in right click menu on files: "Add this file type to search index"

    Would make things a lot easier.

  64. small_mountain says:

    As far as how to make the UI for Search better, I think most commenters would be made happy if you just copy the search UI from the Mac.  I bring up Finder, click the search box, and start typing a filename.  The Mac finds it, because the Mac indexes the whole drive by default, I believe.  Vista doesn’t find it, because I haven’t specifically added that folder to the indexer.  Also, you get a heading above the results area giving you a choice to search "This Mac" or the current directory, and next to that you can choose to search "Contents" or "File Name".  And those selections don’t cause a re-search; they just filter the results.  Brilliantly simple.  If the Mac doesn’t have this UI patented or something, just copy it.

    Also, there needs to be a keyboard shortcut to get to the Search bar in Windows Explorer.  You’ve got Alt+D to go to the address bar.  Why not Alt+S to go to the Search bar?



  65. Nitz Walsh says:

    Well, that’s the thing – Mac OSX’s indexing has been "real time" since OSX 10.4, and I expected Vista’s to be the same – and was dissapointed to find that it wasn’t.

    WDS 4.0 brought some great changes (unfortunately you borked the UI on XP), I find results as fast as OSX 10.5 now, but I agree it would be nice if you never had to specify a folder to be indexed, it would just happen automatically.  This comes at a price though – for example, stick a USB HD in a Mac and you can’t search it until Spotlight is finished indexing it, which sucks.  Indexing speed is very, very fast though – MS still has some work to do in this area by comparison, albeit MS seems more sensitive to processor usage than Apple does.  The wide variety of industries and applications likely mean that MS simply can’t construct their software in the same way as their competitors as they simply have far more on their plate to consider.

    I do agree that the UI needs to be improved, and significantly so.  For example, the results in OSX 10.5 display the icons/previews of files in different ways depending upon the content, for example you can have a small details listing of hits for the keyword you specified in email messages, but below that a large preview section will be shown for images, which makes perfect sense.

    With Vista, it’s all or nothing – you get a window of results, then you have to change the view style for all at the same time – I don’t need 128×128 icons of email messages, I simply want a list – but if the indexer finds some images with that correspond with my keyword, it makes sense that they’re displayed in a large icon so I can view the contents.

    What’s even worse though is when you start scrolling.  Regardless if it’s on an integrated graphics chipset or an 8800GT, eventually you’ll have to take your hand off the scrollbar for Vista WDS results display to "catch up", which makes quickly scrolling to see your hit an incredible pain.

    Echo that being able to specify a filename or search for contents would be greatly welcomed, Vista sometimes gives bizarre results back, especially as I’m searching for the filename or email subject 10 times more than I’m searching for content.  It’s very frustrating to have a file names, say joeblowinvoice45.xlsx, do a search for "45" and not see that hit anywhere if the first two pages.  Of course, search for joeblow, it’s there.

    Also, I agree that overall the combination of I/O services is straining some systems today, but was just NUTS for the time of Vista’s release, where 1 gig 4200rpm laptops were still being sold in quantity, and were likely some of the most popular consumer machines at the time and even more so as laptop sales continue to grow as a percentage.  You had the indexer, superfetch, Windows defender, system restore, previous versions etc all touching the HD in basically any usage scenario – no wonder people developed a negative reputation of Vistas performance.  Tone down all that disk I/O!

  66. lyesmith says:

    I guess the file system is the source of the index issues. That files does not get indexed. WinFS would do the job. And of course you would not need the whole indexing procedure. It would be automatically done during file creation. The way it should be.

  67. smartpatrol says:

    Search should not be core functionality of the OS. Sorry it a little off topic but modern OS’s are going this way NetBSD is the best example it comes as a complete base OS then you build it up to what you need it to do. My idea of a perfect windows is to be able to purchase it without any optional pieces then add what i need, as i need it for whatever purpose the machine serves from Gaming platform to workstation to server. The vista model tried to emulate this very poorly by confusing OS functionality with features, 2008 server is much better on this but could use quite a bit of help becasue you guys are still confusing functionality with features; even with the server core implementation.

  68. im.thatoneguy says:

    If the new x64 windows doesn’t index network shares I’m going to beat the entire search team with an ugly stick.

    Where did it go? Why can’t we have it back? And for the love of all that’s good and holy put it in Windows 7.

  69. Nitz Walsh says:

    Uh, WDS 4.0 indexes network shares.

  70. manicmarc says:

    gonzc900 a total rewrite?

    What are you on? why throw away years of well tested code? Yes, by all means update it. It does annoy me when people refer to Windows as needing a total rewrite, when neither Mac OSX (based on 30 year old BSD operating system) or Linux (based on a 18 year old clone of a 30 year old operating system!).

    What we need is less legacy support, as that is what often contains the security bugs. Take the recent GDI+ flaw. I think Microsoft should make GDI applications look visually older than WPF applications, as this would be the biggest intensive for developers to upgrade. We also need more rich .NET controls for WPF!

  71. Fredledingue says:

    The Indexing is impressive because searches return results instantly.

    Allowing API tapping the index is a great idea bringing its full sens t this service.

    The gadget to see the content and to turn it on and off is great. Before reading the post I already wanted to talk about that.

    But why it has to be a gadget? Turning it on and off to free resources when we need 100% of our computer is not a gadget IMO.

    Looking at the content may be more "mundane", yet it may be helpful to know what type of info there is and what keywords to enter.

    I wouldn’t emphasize too much about indexing multimedia meta datas: I know that among the hundreds of pictures on my PC none of them contain relevant meta data.

    None of my mp3 rips (music CD to mp3) contains such a metadata, but are perfectly sorted. Other media stuffs may contain meta datas but I don’t know them or if there are any… etc But ok, the idea is good.

    The only source of imperfection (beside preformance hit) is the lack of configuration.

    I cry for more configuration with the indexing service: Like which folder/subfolder to scan or to ignore. Wich file extention/name (with*wildcard) to include/exclude.

    This is extremely important.

    For example I have thousands of file in some folders, I know perfectly what it is and in no the indexing service should search there.

    Off Topic: Chris McConnel wrote

    "Applications can also add support for indexing of data types that aren’t file-based at all, like your e-mail"

    Since Outlokk Express "Windows Mail", mails are file based.

  72. Iso Su says:

    I tried few versions of desktop search for XP including the last 4th one. As always ended up uninstalling it, for few reasons:

    First. Under XP IO is not prioritized unlike in Vista. Which causes your PC to lag like molasses. For some reason it never figures out that I’m actually doing something interactive and it does not back off with indexing.

    Second. I set it up to index my team’s source tree but could not find how to make it skip the content of Subversion’s internal folders (they are hidden and named .svn), so any results contained a ton of garbage.

    Third. Even though indexer tracks change notifications of the file system, when I’m doing search it still uses outdated indexes. Why can’t it see that 10 out of several hundred thousand files were changed and instead of using indexed entries for them, it should fall back to regular ‘grep’ search. This is more serious issue, than it might appear at first. If search returns with empty result the conclusion user makes is that there are no files matching the query, not that there might be a part of the index missing.

    Fourth. If you invest so much into indexing/search algorithms, why is it hard to add regex?

  73. Fredledingue says:


    -prompt to index after huge changes in the file system (basicaly when poeple copy their files to their new computer or when copying the content of a data cd onto the hdd)

    -search single/current directory, or a selected directory easier

    -search either filename or text content/metadata or both in a clearly separate manner

    (wtroot worte:"The normal Vista search confuses me.  For example, I can never tell if it’s searching for filenames or actual content. ")

    -make easier to or remove a directory from the index list

    "Of course, if Vista had a proper explorer, you wouldn’t need to search in the first place…."

    I wished I could install Windows without Explorer. I immediately install Xplorer2 because if I use Vista’s Explorer, after 2 minutes I start banging my head on the desk (already destroyed 3 keyboards doing so -lol). Steven, I hope there will be a huge blog topic discussing that…

    "What *should* have happened is that a new file system should have been created where updating the index was part of the file create/modify API. That would mean you *always* had an up to date index, and the system would *never* need to be scanned."

    Interresting comment but I don’t know if it’s realistic/realisable and if it won’t slow down the PC even more than indexing at the end.

  74. dotnetcyborg says:

    I can see that Windows Search and the "Indexer" is something that Microsoft has a lot of faith/investment in at this point so I wont waste words being overly critical. Only this, please realize that the level of acceptance of this feature hinges on the hard drive not looking like its constantly being ground up some rogue "indexer process" that I dont use very often. I really do believe that most people including myself are minimalists when it comes to their os.

  75. soukyuu says:

    I’m pretty happy with the indexer in Vista. I’ve enabled it only on certain directories i really need the indexer in, let it create the index and after it was done (took some hours) it never bothered me with high hdd load again.

    i’m not missing the old search dialog, i usually use the search to access one of the indexed files faster by typing it into the startmenu search field. i don’t understand what some people mean by not being able to search in a specific folder – of course you can, just open the folder and enter the keyword into the explorer’s search field.

    I agree that there should be less legacy support in windows 7. How long do you intend to drag old stuff along to the new versions of windows? Especially when those legacy hardware components don’t perform well under Vista. I’m crying inside every time i hear people complaining about Vista not running smoothly on their 1.2 GHz P4 w/ 512MB ram. IMHO, there should be a period of time after which the hardware (that can’t handle the OS anyway) should be marked as unsupported.

  76. soukyuu says:

    quoted from Fredledingue’s comment: "What *should* have happened is that a new file system should have been created where updating the index was part of the file create/modify API. That would mean you *always* had an up to date index, and the system would *never* need to be scanned."

    Interresting comment but I don’t know if it’s realistic/realisable and if it won’t slow down the PC even more than indexing at the end.

    Quote end.

    If i’m not mistaken, several linux filesystems like ext3 already have that feature and it’s working fine.

  77. CmraLvr2 says:

    I gave the Vista indexer a chance and ran it for a year.  I disabled the indexer because:

    A.  I very rarely search for files, I know where they are.

    B.  Why waste resources on something I do not use or need.

    C.  I had some corrupted file/indexer issues.

    I’ve been very happy since.  The performance hit may be small but cumulatively stopping unneeded services and startup items does make a large difference in performance and stability.

  78. Nitz Walsh says:

    I’d like to hear from the search team on why a new version of NTFS wasn’t created to integrate indexing as mentioned by other posters, was there not enough time, you don’t think it’s the right approach, etc?

  79. marcinw says:


    thank you for your patience and explanation. I’m unhappy, because I can’t join PDC and WinHEC and additionally it looks, that I will have ability to test Win7 not until December (when it will be opened for public).

    In my opinion you should think about answering on such questions as soon as possible:

    1. how Win7 will separate applications from each other and system core ? what will be new here ? will it have decentralized Registry, some kinds of sandboxes or virtualization ?

    2. how Win7 can better uninstall apps ?

    3. what will you do for making interface more known for WIndows XP users ?

    4. how WIn7 from the box will show better hidden data ? (like alternative NTFS streams)

    5. what will do you to improve users experiences with OEM versions (many people don’t want to format all partitions, when install OS – hard disk partitioning should be always available)

    6. how do you want to make more simple checking and setting, what will be run on system start

    7. what will DRM role in new system ?

    You can of course not to speak about it, but please think, if you want to have more happy customers or not… Windows 7 doesn’t have ideal start, because it’s advertised by boys band & based on Vista. Remember – for some users Windows Desktop Search, Touch interface or similiar features are really not important.

    Additionally it would be nice (I know, I know, that maybe in ideal world only, but who knows :)), if you could make some speeches with companies producing for example notebooks – returning to (a little) smaller resolutions.

  80. smartpatrol says:


    you poor misguided soul! as a public service i will update your knowledge of the operating systems you mentioned.

    "It does annoy me when people refer to Windows as needing a total rewrite, when neither Mac OSX (based on 30 year old BSD operating system)"

    OSX is a based off of Next OS which uses the Mach kernel and is relativly new Operating system. The BSD pieces is just the underlying userland.

    "or Linux (based on a 18 year old clone of a 30 year old operating system!)."

    Linux is not Unix yes it is Unix like but is almost completely different than Unix! and That 30 year old operating system you speak of powers the majority of important missions critical systems for a majority of large businesses where Windows can’t compete (Yet).

    As an in betweener (I Admin Windows, Linux and AIX(Unix) servers on a daily basis) i can hardly tell which is worse..the ignorant Windows zealot, the old battle axe Unix bigot, or the snobish linux zealot.

  81. bpaddock says:

    Hairs said:

    "There should be no background indexing at all. No matter how much you minimise it, it’s there. What *should* have happened is that a new file system should have been created where updating the index was part of the file create/modify API. That would mean you *always* had an up to date index, and the system would *never* need to be scanned."

    This might sound great in theory, but think about how it would work in practice.  When Windows Vista first shipped, people complained that file copies seemed to take longer than on XP.  Could you imagine the reaction of indexing were made to be a synchronous part of the I/O pipeline?

    Everybody would love to get to a point where indexing is fast and cheap enough to be made synchronous with the filesystem (and this doesn’t have to mean it’s a "part" of the filesystem, though I guess that’s delving into pedantics).  We’re working and making progress toward that end, but it’s not something that’s feasible to just switch on overnight.  Besides, most of the time you just want to copy the file and then open it as fast as possible, you don’t want to copy it and then *immediately* search for it.  So we make indexing an asynchronous background task so that the common case is optimized and the slower work is deferred.

  82. bpaddock says:


    Which is older?  NT or Mach? 😉

  83. JohnVottero says:

    I’m part of the 1.5% that disable the indexer.  If 1.5% of people are turning it off, it’s annoying 15% to 30% of the users.

    I didn’t turn it off because I think it’s affecting performance, I turned it off because I want my computer to be quiet.  If I’m not actively using my computer, it probably means that I’m reading and the last thing I want is for my hard drive to start clicking it’s brains out.

    I’m also amazed at how often a search fails to find anything, even when I know it’s out there.  I just did a search on "GenerateBootstrapper".  I know it’s out there but it didn’t find anything.  I changed the search to "Bootstrapper", and it finds it.  That’s not useful.

    I would like to be able to tell the indexer that it can index only between 1am and 6am.  I would also like a "Be quiet and slow" option to disable things like SuperFetch.

  84. alamfour says:

    All of you who are complaining about superfetch slowing down you HD or keeping your HD occupied. Please think before posting. Superfetch has existed before Vista. It was actually first introduced in XP but was called Prefetch. Superfetch is just an evolution of Prefetch. Actually Superfetch, I fell is one of the best improvements in Vista and am looking forward to the further evolution in Windows 7 (by the way I love the new name for Windows.) Superfetch allows me launch large memory intensive programs very quickly compared with having it off. For example I run a CAD program called REVIT and I can assure you it is a very memory intensive program. With out superfetch turned on it takes a good 5min to launch on my Vista Ultimate laptop with a rating of 3.4. With superfetch on it takes less than a minute. And WDS 4.0 is great. For all of you complaining about it lacking advanced search again think clearly before posting. Open any explorer window and type in the search box and press enter you will get an option for Advanced search under the taskbar.

  85. bpaddock says:


    That is incorrect.  SuperFetch is not really at all related to the prefetcher.  The prefetcher still exists in Vista, and it works largely the same as in XP (as in, it kicks in at the moment an application begins to launch, and streamlines the loading of that application).  SuperFetch is actually quite different, and does do far more I/O, though it is background priority.  SuperFetch is more related to the disk cache than to the prefetcher.

  86. alamfour says:

    @bpaddock and smartpatrol

    NEXTOS is actually older than NT considering that Steve Jobs left Apple late 80’s, if i remember it was 87, and soon after created NEXT. NT was started in the early 90’s with the first version released in 93 by that stage NEXT was two versions old. And NEXT is very heavily based on UNIX, for god’s sake just drop to the command line in OSX and you will notice that the same command types are used in both operating systems. They are one and the same with just different makeup on. And I will remind you that NT was a rewritten in 99 for windows 2000 and XP to incorpate multimedia functionality and it was again rewritten in the longhorn/vista project so in reality the NT we have today is at max 4 years old. (counting from the 2004 longhorn reset).

  87. PatriotB says:

    @alamfour — NT was not "rewritten" for 2000 or for longhorn/vista.  It certainly evolves, and features are added, but never is it entirely or even significantly (>20%) rewritten.

  88. screwballl says:

    WDS (ver. 3 & 4) for XP slowed the system down to an unusable speed. This is/was the case on 4 primary systems:

    AthlonXP 3000+ (PATA drives)

    Core2D E2140 (SATA drive)

    Core2D E6600 (SATA drives)

    Core2Q QX9700 (SATA drives)

    I have since removed it from all of my systems.

    Google Desktop was much more discrete and only indexed during down time/idle times and never affected gaming, general usage or anything else.

    To everyone about NT above:

    NT had a major overhaul (aka had at least 50% or more of the coding rewritten) going from NT 4.0 to Win2000 (and its service packs), and from XP to Vista. The only jump that did not have a major overhaul was 2000 to XP.

    Unfortunately the Vista kernel is crap with all the embedded DRM and all the extra API layers for drivers. Keep that junk in corporate releases. Viruses on normal people’s computers do not affect kernel level drivers. This is one major thing I hope they return to with W7.

  89. Eghost says:

    My biggest complaint about search in Vista, is just to many places to search from. That really comes down to allowing customizations and choice with the UI. Vista’s UI is no choice, it’s Microsoft’s way.  Putting ribbons on Vista and not allowing customizations or choice is nothing more that putting lipstick on a pig. The photos I’ve seen Windows 7 is, "Lipstick on a Pig." I hope I’m wrong. As far as the search goes, please allow user’s some choice, is it really necessary to be able to search from 90 billzion places in the operating system. Please allow some choice. Hopefully when the beta comes out you will have some real discussion on the UI, not just aspects of it.  Once this gets to beta I hope Microsoft is more open to change than they were in the beta’s of Vista, or for that matter in the Beta’s of IE 8.

    "Vita per Moenia"    

  90. Jalf says:

    "This might sound great in theory, but think about how it would work in practice.  When Windows Vista first shipped, people complained that file copies seemed to take longer than on XP.  Could you imagine the reaction of indexing were made to be a synchronous part of the I/O pipeline?"

    So make it an asynchronous part of the I/O pipeline. Once the file itself has been created, the CreateFile() call can return. And Windows can then run an async job to update the index with this file.

    Problem solved. 😉

    Also, when copying a file, it surely isn’t CreateFile() which slows it down. Writing a small index entry  won’t really be that noticeable when you’re copying a file. The slow part is in transferring the data.

    "I didn’t turn it off because I think it’s affecting performance, I turned it off because I want my computer to be quiet.  If I’m not actively using my computer, it probably means that I’m reading and the last thing I want is for my hard drive to start clicking it’s brains out."

    Very good point. I often want my computer to be silent, and then I don’t want the OS to take command of my harddrive. If I can’t make it quit messing around with the harddrive, I’ll disable the service that causes it.

    Apart from that, I’m a bit disappointed that this blog post didn’t actually talk about anything related to Windows 7. It seems it could really just be boiled down to "Here’s what we did in Vista, and it wasn’t as bad as people say"

    Just seems a bit out of place. 🙂

  91. alamfour says:


    NT was rewritten for windows 2000. NT 4.0 had an architectural flaw that could be fixed with a patch, but needed a rewrite to fix. That is why Windows 2000 was a near total rewrite of the NT kernel.

    Vista is also a near complete rewrite of the Windows 2000 Kernel. The Kernel was striped down and componantised. (Ever heard of MinWin) Just think back to when Vista was realesed to the consumer market in January 07. Why so many programs did not work and hardware peripherals not work. Because Vista was nothing like the 2000/XP kernel. Later patches and updates where silently released to all windows Vista users vie Windows Update upgradeing the compatability of programs and hardware with Vista. Also microsoft partners realesed patches and driver updates (all bet slowly) that correct the incompatabilities.

    So Again I will say the Kernel in Vista and Server 2008 is only 4 years old (counting from the 2004 longhorn reset).

  92. alamfour says:


    What DRM are you talking about. There is no DRM in the Kernel.

    DRM is a service provided to media providers to prevent illegal copies of their media (ie music and movies not software).

    The only protection that microsoft have on Windows (not the kernel but windows as a whole) is WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) which is run every time an update is requested and installed by your machine. Even then, if you are found to have an illegal copy you system is locked down. You just get a black background on you desktop with a screen warning you that you may be the victim of Pirated software.

    That is it. NO DRM IN NT KERNEL!!!!!!

  93. mariosalice says:

    Check the owner of the system files.

    It’s someone called "trusted installer".

    In case you exchange these files with identical copies (you need to take the ownership to do it), they won’t work because you are not a "trusted installer".

    Vista is DRM ready.

  94. bpaddock says:


    "So make it an asynchronous part of the I/O pipeline. Once the file itself has been created, the CreateFile() call can return. And Windows can then run an async job to update the index with this file.

    Problem solved. ;)"

    Cool! That’s what we have today!  I love when people suggest we make things they way they are 🙂

    "Also, when copying a file, it surely isn’t CreateFile() which slows it down. Writing a small index entry  won’t really be that noticeable when you’re copying a file. The slow part is in transferring the data."

    Not sure what you mean here.  "Writing a small index entry" isn’t the problem.  The problem is loading the property handler code for that filetype, and the IFilter for that file type, then cracking the file with one or both of those to extract the metadata and contents. Then the indexer needs to process the content. THEN you write the index entry.

  95. Fduch says:

    WDS lacks the simple feature I need the most.

    I don’t care about metadata. I care only about their names.

    There isn’t an easy and efficient way to search in ALL files’ names. I don’t want to index contents of my millions of files. I just want it to index their names.

  96. Fduch says:

    >In case you exchange these files with identical copies (you need to take the ownership to do it), they won’t work

    It’s a lie. I patched my uxtheme.dll on the live system.

  97. Fredledingue says:

    To those who camplain that we are complaining…

    We (at least 3 or 4 posters here and me) don’t want "more options" for the search tool. We want the basic options to be easily accessible and presented in a simplier manner.

  98. Tanveer Badar says:

    "Within Windows, a more comprehensive search option allowed you to also examine the contents of the files, but this wasn’t widely used. It was fairly basic functionality – it treated all files just the same, without the tapping in to the rich metadata properties available in the files. "

    These lines are totally incorrect. There was an indexing service dating back to at least windows 2000, may be more, which was pretty much the predecessor of what WDS is today.

    The service executable is cisvc.exe and uses worker processes named cideamon.exe for actually indexing if I am not mistaken.

  99. manicmarc says:

    Does windows Media Player use the index? It seems to have to index my music folders (which have already been indexed by Vista). When I delete files they still appear in Media Player.

  100. Mike Williams says:

    Windows Media Player has its own index file, which partly explains why searching for music/video in Windows is so idiosyncratic and unintegrated into the general search experience. ( If you’ve even been in a beta for it, you’ll know that every divergence from standard behaviour is BY DESIGN).

    One of WMP11’s special idiosyncrasies is to keep reindexing the Recycle Bin. Now that Microsoft is off chasing the WMP-incompatible Zune, the chances of anything like that getting fixed in a hurry are ratehr low.

  101. cquirke says:

    When I do search for stuff, it’s often because I want to be certain that it does NOT exist… and that’s where my experience with Vista’s Search has been problematic.

    For whatever reasons of syntax, options, duhfaults to hide files etc. I cannot rely on my searches in Vista to exclude the presence of unwanted files, or be sure that I have found *every* file of a certain name (e.g. GDIPlus.dll).

    I need that certainty, even if it can only be delivered within the narrow context of DOS-style file name search (e.g. *.DLL, GDI*.DLL).

    On performance and safety; two things can blow up per-item overhead…

    1)  Slow storage

    For example, slow network connects, failing hard drives with bad-sector retries, etc.  There’s an obvious data-safety aspect to banging away at sick hard drives, which is why IMO all first-time storage should be treated in a "no-touch" manner for safety.

    2)  Piggy-back code

    Let’s say you get a PC that has no resident av on it, so you install one – but you weren’t aware there was one of those UI-less "administered client" av on the system already.  Plus you have a bunch of piggy "media detector" crud that came in via camera bundleware, etc.

    If your indexer gropes files underfoot, do all of these things kick in as well?  If so, the impact is far worse, thanks to dragging all that extra code around, especially if these multiple rather than add (e.g. if av kicks in when indexer indexers, then when other indexer indexes, then when other av touches the file, etc.)

  102. AndresP says:

    SEARCH – i deadly miss contect meny item Search…  (or Find..) or whatever You name it. Okay sometimes i can use Indexed, but if i need search from CD/DVD etc.. archive – then it is not an option. And for some oddly reason searching from allmost known location is still faster than searching with Index ? 😉

  103. Raiker says:

    The really problem Windows Vista has is the search in non-indexed locations. Yes, it’s the worse. Index is great and search by tags etc, but it’s really impossible to find something somewhere in system directories, like temporary internet files, appdata etc. It’s either very slow, or impossible at all. Then the deleted in Vista SP1 Search applet is a really bad idea (hate google) because custom search becomes much more complicated  (I mean the search in number of folders by name or date, moreover if they are not indexed). So I should use some 3rd party application for such a query. It’s really annoying and disappointing that Vista can do such a complicated query like search by metadata tags and can’t do such a stupid search, that was a native feature during the years, including Windows XP.

  104. Sirus20x6 says:

    Windows 7 m3 build 6801 was probably the fastest Microsoft GUI based OS I’ve ever used …. for 3 days.

    I was in love with a lot of the features but my computer would trash the disk constantly. I would have to restart to get it to stop, and even then it was only a matter of time before it would start again. Just windows. no other programs running, just trying to open a browser would make my very very powerful computer chug and become unresponsive. Finally this morning it wouldn’t boot at all, but I’m sure that had something to do with my attempt to install andlinux.

    Now I don’t know if it’s the indexer that’s causing my hard drive to grind itself to death or not, but something is, and I want it turned off. I want my computer to do what I want it to do, when I want it to do it, and to give ME the USER full attention. What I say goes, if I hit cancel that means I want something to cancel now not in 30 seconds. I realize that it can’t be an instant process, but it should "appear" to be instant to the user while it cleans up in the background, and if I start trying to do other things right away then deallocating resources for the operation I canceled should have the absolute lowest priority.

    I’d go through the process list and just windows uses 56 processes, and 1.4 gigs of ram. Holy molly what are you people trying to do in the background?

    I want my music indexed, but that’s why I used a 3rd party music player. The index only refreshes when I tell it, and is only loaded when the music player is. I have a different app for videos that does it’s own indexing of just my videos.

    I think this just goes to show that windows needs a "gaming mode" that would turn all this cruft off. I think I would stay in that mode all the time.

    It basically boils down to the fact that if directx didn’t enjoy a monopoly in modern video games I wouldn’t run windows at all.

    Xp is very manageable, and linux seems to understand that whatever I want I’m the boss. I always feel that when I’m running windows it’s really built only for the developer who wrote it and not the end user.

  105. Sirus20x6 says:

    ok after reading more posts I have to rant even more.

    I never search. I know where all my files are.

    I don’t have a printer. Why is there a print spooler running?

    I don’t use a digital camera, scanner, or other useless cruft with my gaming machine.

    I use a different computer for misc tasks and my main fast computer for gaming and occasionally web browsing and listening to music while I game. Nothing else. I dont burn CDs, I don’t rip DVDs I don’t even use the start menu. I have my game Icons on my desktop and even use blank wallpaper and set my screen saver to blank on that computer. I’m even considering replacing explorer.exe with something more minimal.

    You may think that all of this is "l337 g4mer" nonsense, but you have no idea just how much of a difference it makes.

  106. blad3runn69 says:

    great article, cool blog thank you very much 🙂

  107. vitali_Y says:

    why WDS is better then StopKa – desktop search tool?

    this is work only 1 person. it speed is much better 🙂 so I better than dozen of "you" 😉

  108. vitali_Y says:

    why WDS is better then StopKa – desktop search tool?

    this is work only 1 person. it speed is much better 🙂 so I’m better than dozen of "you" 😉

  109. cirurgia plastica says:

    As far as how to make the UI for Search better, I think most commenters would be made happy if you just copy the search UI from the Mac.  I bring up Finder, click the search box, and start typing a filename.  The Mac finds it, because the Mac indexes the whole drive by default, I believe.  Vista doesn’t find it, because I haven’t specifically added that folder to the indexer.  Also, you get a heading above the results area giving you a choice to search "This Mac" or the current directory, and next to that you can choose to search "Contents" or "File Name".  And those selections don’t cause a re-search; they just filter the results.  Brilliantly simple.  If the Mac doesn’t have this UI patented or something, just copy it.

    Also, there needs to be a keyboard shortcut to get to the Search bar in Windows Explorer.  You’ve got Alt+D to go to the address bar.  Why not Alt+S to go to the Search bar?

  110. Mark Fowler says:

    Very frustrated with Windows Search. It doesn’t search non-indexed locations by default. It doesn’t think I need to search for system files. It doesn’t search for contents of files in non-indexed locations.

    SO, if I have an application that puts files in a location other than my documents, (VERY common for applications that may be shared among multiple users on a PC) and I want to search those files for a string, I can’t do it.


    I have an application that sends a list of checks, recipients, and amounts to the bank each day. It keeps a log of the checks and amounts in a file named "C:BANKDATAChecks_YYYYMMDD.txt". If I want to search for a certain check number to validate that it went to the bank, I simply can’t do it.

  111. Mike Williams says:

    It’s astoundingly dreadful at locating recently used files or recently installed programs.

    Last night I created a text file called "script.txt" that was saved in a subfolder of My Document.

    I typed "script" into the run/search box and all I got was some obscure program called "Windows Media Encoding Script".

    Meanwhile WMP v12 is still off indexing my Recycle Bin…

  112. switzerland says:

    "Sorry, but I’m still too mad about you guys using WSUS to push Windows Search on all my machines to even think about downloading Windows Search 4."

    > Guys, you don’t understand the concept of WSUS. WSUS these days is NOT for saving bandwidth in general (That’s just a nice side effect) it’s SO that one person can aprove 20 updates a month and does 1 day study before and THEN decide what to give free/aprove. So not every guy in the company has to study the updates. That person get’s money for carying the risk of aproval.

    If you just install everything that WSUS has to offer than you don’t understand Risk management. If you don ‘t have time to study the Updates then give it external to some outsources they will take the risk for you but will also have to spend cash. But you also spend cash in assurance and car assurance.

    But stop complaining you get Search, IEX or any other product via WSUS if you are lame enough to auto update just everything…


  113. Irchr says:

    I have come to HATE the search feature in Vista and 7.  I don’t want to search every thing, I can’t seem to narrow the field to what I want and not what it thinks I need.  I loved the old Xp search engine.  I could make it do what I WANTED.  But this things just goes all over the place and brings up so much crap that isn’t even near what I want.  I am almost to the point of not using it.  SOme one had a terrible idea and now we are all stuck with it.  Is there an add on that will cure it, or even take its place?  If not why not?  Terrible feature of Vista and 7

  114. rick g says:

    I want a limited file type and content search..

    Windows / MS .. you got it all wrong again.. thank you for F*** up the works

  115. rick g says:

    I want a limited file type and content search..

    Windows / MS .. you got it all wrong again.. thank you for F*** up the works

  116. Gio says:

    Going through the comments, you can see how terrible MS is at user interface. They had something the worked (Search in XP) and now they have somthing that looks pretty but doesnt.


    Why have they taken that ability away ????

  117. Joe says:

    Hi Win Engineering Team.  

    Unfortunately I’m also one to report that the development management that decided to entirely funk up File Manager and Search in Vista and Win7 was one of the *WORST* decisions -EVER-.  I’m an IT guy, make my money in the field.  Now comes along Vista/Win7 *new* *SEARCH* and life is *-MISERABLE-*.  This *new* idea to content index everything is slow, cumbersome, and needless.  But, if this is wanted to be made a ‘feature’ then do it, it in it’s own application area, -not- in the fundamental aspect of the OS.  Explorer windows are a mess now too, nothing displays intelligently, we’re all presented with "New Coke" ‘idea’s’ that are just hinderances and a waste of time.  

    With this *new* *search* I’m forced to now use, -NOTHING- is the same.  Instead, these *new* changes SLOW DOWN any and all -REAL- -WORK- that needs to be done on a daily basis.  Now, the simple effort to do *real work* has been increased three to five fold.  I haven’t even figured out how to multiple search yet-  (and it’s not the same as before either), ie- "hosts;lmhosts"  In this case, I would get the results I *NEED* on Windows 3.1, Windows 3.11, Windows 95, Windows NT4, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows 2003, except…

    Not Now.  Not with "New Coke"

    And, at more times than once will plenty of IT guys not bother to open an Explorer, drill down to %SYSROOT%SYSTEM32DRIVERSETC, to get to these two simple files- YES, "Search" is and *WAS* important.  Not any longer with "New Coke."  What a nightmare.  Think all users will actually *USE* the goofy libraries to store files?  And it’s not important to be able to easily search the entire drive any way you used to be able to have wanted to?  No?  Apparently too many development managers have never actually worked in the IT field but only watch stock numbers and *trying* to claim the next new great idea.  So instead, let’s change a fundamental way to use a computer for a crippled one instead.  All in the name of "Desktop Search"?  How about beyond the desktop and into the system?  

    Nobody CARES about ‘searching’ from the start/task bar, let alone this will not produce the proper result in the "hosts, lmhosts" example, try it.  Worse, one can’t configure "Search" away from what it’s designed to do to get *intelligent* results.  

    Ya know, "New Coke" wasn’t such a good idea….  But atleast Coca-Cola was smart enough to dump a bad idea and get back to doing business.  Sorry Engineering team for this new search garbage, the way I see it, the *Team* simply responds to *Orders*; much like me working in the field.  I can’t see the "Team" being at fault.  Unfortunately, whomever put the whole new Explorer/Search idea on the map is to blame.  

    In the end, there’s only one phrase for it all-  "What a waste of time."  



  118. mbrio says:

    This search is so bad! I have spent my whole work day surfing the net looking for a way that I can find "Program Files" using this search. It really can’t get any worse than that. Why can’t this search engine find anything? What a POS. Third party apps is the only way to fix this ’cause obviously Microsoft won’t.

  119. Scott says:

    Agreed the Windows 7 search is absolutely worthless, except for accessing some of the hidden control panel stuff that I can’t find any other way to get to, now that the property pages are all rearranged in bizarre fashions! I skipped Vista for a thousand reasons, but am now being forced off my beloved and productive XP.

    Windows 7 is 95% awesome, but the problem is that the screwed up 5% is the the part I use 95% of the time, the UI! Under the hood is fabulous, it is just that the UI is still screwed up Vista.

    I am a hardened IT Pro and I cuss and scream at it, and my Mom is the typical non-tech user that also is completely lost with it.

    There was a lot of talk about all the usability testing that went into Win95, and it was obvious. There was a steady improvement right up to XP. Although XP had a few UI flops, they were easily turned off. Then with the Vista train wreck, 7 was the time to redeem Windows. Didn’t happen.

    I have found the registry hacks to kill the Libraries, Favorites and User Folders. Now I need a usable search, less cluttered, a more functional Start Menu and more usable UI! PLEASE!!! Yes, I believe the XP Start Menu is way more functional than 7’s!

    PLEASE release a Windows 7 R2 or a Pro-User pack to make Windows usable to professionals again!!

  120. windows 7 says:

     I always want to search file contents without indexing, but how? windows 7 's filter is annoying, because the search box is too narrow.pls let the windows search support windows 7.

  121. lomet says:

    I like Windows 7 desktop search.  Unfortunately, while I have Windows 7 installed on my home machine, search capability has disappeared.  I do not know whether I have done something inappropriate or not.  But I would like to re-enable search.  Any suggestions?

  122. Mark Palmos says:


    The internet is PACKED FULL of frustrated users who love Win7 but absolutely hate the removal of a friendly user interface for doing an advanced search.

    I have been a windows user for 20 years and still cannot work the Win7 search, having to remember commands like name: to be able to search for a name. It was FAR better when there was an INTERFACE to CHOOSE what you wanted rather than have to remember all sorts of codes and try get them right.

    The person/team who came up with this awful Win7 search should be replaced with a team who have a clue about what regular users would like in a search tool.

    Win7 took many steps forwards, but he search was a giant one backwards. I am searching for an alternative, sadly, because it is more convenient to be able to search from Windows Explorer rather than then open a 3rd party app.


    Mark Palmos,


  123. AlexK says:

    I'm really happy that MS is taking care about plain users, but how about professionals? Why I need to go and use 3rd party grep in Win7/Vista or bust Search Assistant in XP when Win2000 had perfectly working search? If you want to make search "faster" by omitting 70% of the content from the search – be my guest, but leave working part of the tool alone!

  124. Stan says:

    If I type in a string in the searsh bar I should get back every file name and subfolder name with that string in it! It dont matter whether u index it or not, instead I get "NO FREQUING MATCHES FOUND" when im looking right at them on the same page or know they are in a subfolder. WHAT ARE U PPLE SMOKING? pull ur heads out of ur butts; its been decades and ur getting noticeably worse every minute!!

  125. Otto Schweigenthaler says:

    You are not constantly improving. The few seconds required to find those files I needed to locate with specific content in  XP and even Vista, which was not an improvement at all, were more than compensated by the ability to find content. Despite checking the option to search files and content in search options, search does not find those files with the needed information.

    Please add both the simple XP and the bolean based vista options to the next service pack or make them available.

  126. Carlos Lopez says:

    I can't find a Download Link for Search-4 for Windows-7 !!!

    Please help.

  127. Still no way to disable this disaster says:

    Windows Search on – Task takes 15 minutes to complete. When OFF – same task takes 3 minutes.

    Measurements are consistent.

    Windows Search is extremely resource consuming and totally unfit for work environments.

  128. Sophie N says:

    Like Windows 7 – I think if Windows search is set up properly it should be a help rather than a hindrance!…/windows-search-windows-7-outlook-2007

  129. Charlie Teater says:

    Would be nice to allow the old fashion type of search if needed.  

  130. Chris Clarke-Williams says:

    The fact that there is no way to search a directory in Windows 7 for files containing a particular string is a serious omission it used to be possible in XP.  Why do Microsoft have to keep making all their search products progressively worse!

  131. bMi says:

    Doesn't really answer the question. Do you need both? Indexing Service and Windows Search: yes or no. Thanks.

  132. Imezmo says:

    Our office previously used Windows XP with Windows Search 4.0 add-in.  Indiviual desktop users were able to index various folders and subfolders on various network drives.  We were also able to "snooze" the search function during a busy day (since it slowed the computer significantly) and restart it after business hours so that we always had a reasonably upto date index for fast searches and recall from the 1,000's of files.  There was a pulsating magifying glass on the task tool bar that let you know when you were indexing.  We have recently migrated to Windows 7 and I cannot discover how to continually index so that I have an up-to-date index from which to search.  Also, and more importantly, I cannot add network drives for indexing, even though I have access to the network drives.  I tried to download and install Search 4.0, but got a message that: "The version of Windows you have installed does not match the update you are trying to install."  Most of our IT people have never used Windows Search 4.0 add-in and don't appreciate the absence of this functionality in Windows 7.  Does anyone have any suggetstion of how to get the same functionality in Windows 7?

  133. CB says:

    One of the biggest tradeoffs with search in Windows 7 is that you will never be able to find anything, even if the file you're looking for is staring you in the face.  

  134. Sunila B Singh says:

    I have windows 7 OS on my laptop. When I need to search for a file containing a string of words I am not able to find it. In Windows XP it was not a problem at all. Please help.

  135. josh says:

    I want to be able to complete my work and stay organized.  Why are you making it difficult to impossible?  I know my files are there!  How is it useful to have them and not be able to access them?

  136. Dan Albert says:

    Why doesn't search work in Windows 7? It can't even find text files let alone text in files. I've tried everything.

  137. Vijay Moongilan says:

    Why windows desktop search is not working in windows 7???

    I'm very happy with windows desktop search in windows XP.

    Anyone can help me how to use desktop search engine windows 7???

  138. Lyndel Prott says:

    I used to be able to search for words in filenames.  Now it only searches text in files.  I do not need that, for me it is a waste of time. But finding a file by its title, in the myriads of folders that I deal with, is essential.  Is there some way I can force it to search titles, not contents?

  139. StefanS says:

    I use the alternative Lookeen. It's a rising search tool and still works perfect. Its easy and fast to operate and finds every single file on your pc. You can try the 14 days trial on

    Rear: I work for the company which developed Lookeen.

  140. Regis80 says:

    Desktop Search really is a great tool to work with especially with all this data nowadays. I don't dislike the Windows Search but with all the features Windows offers I sometimes think that they spared to much time for some great features while taking their time for features no one needs… They bought Lookout and "integrated" it in Windows, but the search is still not competitive with third party search tools like Lookeen Free.

  141. Anonymous says:

    'If you wanted to perform the same search again, you would “pay” again.'

    Silly salestalk. I'd rather pay over and over again, rather than not be able to buy at all. Do you people think we search from "C:" every time? Do you not know about the use of file extensions in a search term? As for 'paying', how much time have I paid researching how to make the once-useable search function work to my benefit?

    At the cost of a few seconds per search, I've spent hours not getting anywhere and MANUALLY perusing files.

    Super smart, guys!

    Smarter, is that this near decade-old document is what my plea for aid brings me to.

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