Windows Vista Review Part 6

Instant Search

Gone are the days when you had to use the F3 command to do a search for your files only to be greeted by an annoying animated dog or wizard (much like the paper clip in MS Office). The new search facility has been completely overhauled for Windows Vista and is much more rapid at retrieving the files that you’re after. The results are much more accurate and show up much quicker than they do in XP. An indexing system that runs in the background catalogues all of your files and will look at the names of your files as well as keywords within the file itself. It will also look at tags on files like photos and videos and search through these.Instant Search will index the contents of your hard drive from documents and e-mails to photos and videos. As before it will look at file names, specific property tags embedded within the file and keywords inside of a file. So for instance I may have named a file Text Document 1004 but inside that Word document s the title “Assessment Report for January Transition”. Typing in to the search bar the word “Transition” would bring that document up. The problem of finding things is no longer an issue so long as you remember at least vaguely the words that were used within that file.

Accessing the Search facility can be done through the Start Menu or from any explorer window in the top right corner. Having the integrated search in the Start Menu was designed not just as a useful search tool, but a new concept to launching applications. As a Mac user, I often use the Spotlight search facility as an app launcher. Type in a few keywords of the app I’m after (e.g. Not) and it brings up Notepad. Hit enter and it’s up and running. No more digging through menus in your programs folder.

Microsoft’s search engine, Live.com is being heavily pushed with Vista as the default search tool. So much so that you can do web searches directly from Internet Explorer and your file explorer window as well.

The results of each search are categorised by its relevant file type. So if you type in Word, it will search the index for all matches of that word and sort the results in to Programs, Documents, Images and Videos.

This great new feature has been a no-brainer for Microsoft developers since experimenting with the WinFS file system and the MSN Desktop Search but is now tightly integrated in to the core of Vista itself. The fantastic thing about it is that it does what it says on the tin. The search is accurate and it’s instant, essentially making it useful, unlike the search facilities available in the past.

For those of you who aren’t used to using search for finding your documents or launching an application, I would suggest you give it a try on the new Vista platform, you might just find yourself using it as much as you use Google!

2007-04-25 Onwah Tsang

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