Ramblings from another nerd on the grid
I'm guessing most of you think finding stuff is pretty important. The Windows Vista development team also thinks search should be an easy to use core operating system feature. The search feature set in Windows Vista is really multiple parts. We like to call this set of features Windows Vista Instant Search.
The Indexing Service
As with most search technologies, you have an indexing service that is responsible for indexing the data. Duh. You might think it's easy to write such a service. Think again. The trick is to write such a service so that it doesn't suck all of the performance out of your machine. I mean after all, you've got to pay the bills so you'll need some performance to run those mission critical applications like Live Messenger.
So how do we do it? Well, take a close look at the process list in task manager or the other performance monitors in Windows Vista. You'll see the search service is assigned as a low priority task meaning it's not supposed to consume so much performance and I/O that you feel it doing it's job.
A nice test is to add a .txt document to your desktop and add a unique word to the body. Save the document and search for the word from the Start | Search area. You'll see it's already indexed the document. Pretty cool eh?
The Search User Interface
I never have been a big fan of the term "user interface". It sounds a lot like "in your face". That's actually the point. When building search into the operating system, you don't want it to be intrusive. You don't want the indexing service dogging the system, and you don't want big ugly in-your-face UI to have to do a search.
Thankfully, the Windows team did a really nice job of adding searchability to Windows Vista. The first place you'll notice it is on the Start menu area. Just click the Windows Vista Start pearl or hit the windows key on most modern keyboards. Up pops the Start menu area with search at the bottom.
Or, while you are using the Windows Explorer tool, you'll see the Instant Search input field in the top right most portion of the explorer shell.
Search Results and Tagging
If you've been a good doggie and added properties to your documents as you saved them, you'll find those properties are now really useful. The search interfaces in Windows Vista allow you to search using advanced criteria and filtering. Tagging is a kewl way to categorize incoming information for later filtering and searching.
Think very strategically about the information you are saving NOW. As you'll see in my demos, adding the extra information to your documents, spreadsheets, slide decks, pictures, music, etc. will be highly leveraged with Windows Vista Instant Search. The following screencast is a quick look at the integral shell enhancements.
If you want the under-the-covers information on desktop search technologies from Microsoft, be sure to add a bookmark for my team's resident subject matter expert, Matt Hester. You'll find he has a search category on the subject and a recent TechNet Magazine article as well. He promised to add some more articles on Windows Vista Instant Search soon, along with some other "stuff".
You can watch my Windows Vista Instant Search screencast directly from our streaming media server or download and watch the video later on your laptop or podcatcher. The attachment below is a RSS enclosure for you podsters. Subscribe to my screencast RSS feed at http://blogs.technet.com/keithcombs/rss.aspx?CategoryID=11416. "See you" again soon.