Microsoft published to its Web site over the past few days documentation that details changes the company is making to its built-in Vista search functionality that will be introduced with Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1.
Developers will be exposed to these changes for the first time when Microsoft rolls out its Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 beta -- which is expected any day now. At the end of August, Microsoft provided Department of Justice (DOJ) officials with a build of SP1 that included these changes so technical committee members overseeing Microsoft's compliance with provisions from its federal antitrust case could evaluate whether Microsoft was delivering the changes to which it committed earlier this year.
At the end of August, Microsoft officials said to expect the Windows team to deliver to between 10,000 and 15,000 testers a beta of SP1 in two weeks' time.
To prepare for the commencement of the SP1 beta, Microsoft is providing third-party developers with information on how it is changing destkop search in Vista, as well as on how third-party search applications will be able to integrate into Windows Vista.
Microsoft agreed to make these search-related changes to Vista following a complaint by rival Google to the Department of Justice. Google said Microsoft should not be allowed to integrate its own desktop search technology into Vista in a way that put other search vendors at a disadvantage.
On September 12, Microsoft published to its site a new Knowledge Base (KB) article detailing changes it is making to the desktop search component of Vista. A Microsoft Developer Network piece with search-protocol documentation for independent software vendors is due to go live later today. A complementary paper describing how third-party developers can avoid disruptions with applications that run as low-level programs as these search changes are introduced, has been available for download from Microsoft's Downloads site since September 10.
"The changes we made are designed to enable a customer who chooses a third party search solution (which has been designed to take advantage of these changes) to have easy and direct access to that solution through the Windows user-interface," said a Microsoft corporate spokesman in a statement provided via email. "That means that in addition to the numerous ways a user could access a third party search solution in Windows Vista, they can now get to their preferred search results from additional entry points in the Start Menu and Explorer Windows in Windows Vista with SP1. ISV’s simply need to register their search application using the newly provided protocol in Windows Vista SP1 to enable these options for their customers. "
How "simple" this registration and new protocol system actually is remains to be seen. I'm sure we'll hear from Google and others whether these Vista changes and accompanying documentation, are adequate in their view.