Microsoft released a new version of Windows Search on Windows Update and as a manual download for all supported operating systems.
The company made the update an recommended update for Windows XP and Vista, and Windows Server 2003 and 2008 devices.
Windows Search 4.0 introduces a wealth of new features and improvements over the previous version. This includes the automatic indexing of shared folders, improvements in indexing online e-mail, as well as performance and stability improvements of the indexing component.
Windows Search is basically a desktop search application much like Google's Desktop Search. It builds an index of the files - and other information like emails - on the system after installation.
This initial indexing takes some time depending on the size of the hard disks, the number of files stored on the disk, and the indexing locations. Some users reported indexing times of several hours in previous versions of Windows Search.
It does take this long because Windows Search does not only index file names and attributes, but also file contents for selected file types. These file types include most plain text formats such as .txt or .html, but also Microsoft Office formats like Word. It may also index properties such as tags of media files.
I still prefer Locate32 which is resource friendly and faster in my opinion.
Please note that this particular version of Windows Search is only available for Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008, and not newer versions of the Windows client or server operating system. It is however also available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
Windows Search 4.0 comes with the following improvements over previous versions of search:
- Can index encrypted documents
- Improved overall indexing performance
- Per-user group policy settings including default exclude paths and indexed paths, and the prevention of indexing certain paths and customizing indexed locations via the control panel.
- Ability to index locations of networked machines.
Please note that Windows Search 4.0 will also install XmLite and IFilters if not already installed on the system at the time of installation. These are used to index file contents and not only file properties.