Microsoft releases public beta of Windows Search 4.0

By Chris | In Featured, News | Posted March 28, 2008 8 comments

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

  • Support for the Encrypting File System (EFS)
  • Reduced affect on Microsoft Exchange when you index e-mail in online mode, and there is no local cache (.ost) 
  • Support for indexing online delegate mailboxes
  • Support for client-to-client remote query to shared indexed locations (ie you can search other PCs running Windows Search 4.0)  
  • Improved indexing performance
  • Faster previewer updates for Windows XP
  • Per-user Group Policy settings
  • Windows software updates for Watson errors
  • Support for the following new enterprise Group Policy objects:

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

Installation on Vista took me just a few minutes, and after a reboot the first thing you’ll notice is that nothing has changed. No new icon in the system tray, no splash screen on startup, nadda. You’ll know something is different when you start a search from the taskbar, as results load significantly quicker. Unfortunately I’m unable to search for music files at the moment, but hey that’s why the beta tag is on. If you have your personal folders (Documents/Music etc) mapped to another location, you’ll need to manually add it to the indexer via the Control Panel (thanks Brandon).

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

Download Windows Search 4.0 Preview

Posted March 28th, 2008 at 8:25 am
  • Meteor


  • sticky359

    The new Windows Search has been really nice to me. I have been reluctant to install instant search programs on any of my XP machines because of performance problems, but after using this new beta version I have been very impressed with the performance. I do wish that it would allow you to search through non indexed folders like Vista search does.

  • Khristopher

    I was just about to uninstall Google Desktop because well it’s really crappy at finding results I want it to, even though I’ve specified it to look in specific folders! It still doesn’t find the files.
    Going to try this out. Hopefully it’s better, and faster from what it used to be!

  • quikboy

    @Khristopher : You really ought to try Windows Desktop Search. Google Desktop has to be one of the most worst things to come out of Google, and there’s a better solution. WDS does a pretty good job for me. You should give it a try:

  • RVSh

    I’m pretty sure that the product team made it sure that music files are indexed and can be searched. If it doesn’t work, you can tell them – there is a forum on

  • Chris

    RVSh, yes it should index these files, I think its because i’ve moved most of the special folders (Documents/Music etc) to a different drive. The checkbox to index is still ticked though…

  • quikboy

    I would have been really more impressed if WDS actually looked like Live “OneView”

    I’ve had WDS for a long time, and didn’t really notice too much of a difference.

  • Chris

    quicboy, I’m guessing you’re using XP if you have WDS intalled, but if you compare OneView to the Windows Vista search results windows you’ll see they are very similar.

    (Thanks for reminding me about that screenshot though, I couldn’t find it the other day!)