Windows 7 / Windows Server 2008 R2: Federated Search

Windows 7 / Windows Server 2008 R2: Federated Search

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Vista Pearl Hello AskPerf Readers!  Day Twenty … only a couple more days to go!  The excitement is building.  Today we are going to take a very quick look at the new and powerful addition of Federated Search in Windows 7.  Federated Search expands the ability of search beyond the users PC and is all about simple lightweight access with a common, familiar user interface.  It can help you find and act on documents anywhere in the enterprise, not just those indexed on your local computer.  Any server compatible with the OpenSearch standard such as Microsoft Office SharePoint 2007 servers can now be searched directly from Windows Explorer.  All you need to do is install a “search connector” pointing to the server location before you can search it.  Best of all, search results in Explorer get all the normal functionality of files in Explorer like drag & drop, preview, open, print, and e-mail. So, let’s get started:

Here is an example showing the installation of the search connector for the MSDN Channel9 website.  The search connector is available on the Channel 9 Search page:


Clicking on the link brings up the dialog to add a Search Connector:


Once installed, I can search for “Windows 7” in the search field from the Explorer window and get direct results from the Channel 9 site.  Notice that Channel9 has been added to favorites, preview icons, and highlighted results.


So that’s how you add a connector – but how does it work?

Windows 7 supports the connection of external sources to the Windows Client through the OpenSearch 1.1 protocol.  The OpenSearch v1.1 standard defines simple file formats that can be used to describe how a client should query the Web service for the data store and how the service should return results to be rendered by the client.  Windows Federated Search connects to Web services that receives OpenSearch queries, and returns results in either the RSS or Atom XML format.

The connection to the web services is provided by Search connectors.  These are Search Connector Description files with the .osdx file extension.  A sample of a .osdx file can be found in the Windows 7 Federated Search Provider Implementer’s Guide and on other MSDN pages (see the links below).


To register a new remote data source with Windows Federated Search, the end-user can open an .osdx file by clicking on a link to one placed on a web site or by opening one provided by someone else on a share or via an email attachment for example. This makes deployment of this functionality very easy and straightforward.

That’s it for the day.  Tomorrow, Tim Newton will be wrapping up our Launch Series with an overview of Problem Steps Recorder.  See you tomorrow!

Additional Resources:

- Jerry Ciferri

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  • What are the ramifications of IE zone policies on Federated Search (if any), particularly security guidance on what they should be set to in each IE zone. I've been unable to find any documentation on them yet:

    Group Policies:

    - "Allow OpenSearch queries in Windows Explorer"

    - "Allow previewing and custom thumbnails of OpenSearch query results in Windows Explorer"

    Also, are these visible in the Windows UI anywhere?