Microsoft releases first public test build of Windows Search 4.0

Microsoft releases first public test build of Windows Search 4.0

Summary: Microsoft released on March 27 the first public test build of the technology it calls "Windows Search 4.0."


Microsoft released on March 27 the first public test build of the technology it calls "Windows Search 4.0."

First things first: What is Windows Search 4.0? It's the search technology formerly code-named "Casino," which Microsoft -- at one point -- planned to deliver as a Windows Live Service. It is an extension, but not the successor, to the Windows Search that is built into Vista, as well as to the "Windows Desktop Search" (WDS), which is part of Windows XP.

The Microsoft Download Center, where the public test builds of Windows Search 4.0 are available, explains it a bit more succinctly:

Windows Search 4.0 "lets you perform an instant search of your computer. WS4 helps you find and preview documents, e-mail messages, music files, photos, and other items on the computer. Please refer to the Knowledge base article KB940157 for a full description of the technology."

Here's more, from a company spokesperson:

"At one point Casino was an internal code name for Windows Search. Windows Search 4.0 will address many of the issues Casino was originally slated to address, but it is distinctly different in that WS4.0 is a continuation of WDS3.01 and an update to Windows search functionality, while Casino was a research project. The purpose of Casino was to explore the area of federation, whereas the goal of the WS4.0 release is improved quality, better performance and reliability, as well as removal of deployment blockers."

When it ultimately is released -- a date which Microsoft isn't providing -- Windows Search 4.0 will be supported on 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Vista SP1; 32-bit versions of Windows XP SP2 or later; all 64-bit versions of XP; Windows Server 2003 SP2; all 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2008 and Windows Home Server.

It isn't clear whether Windows Search 4.0 (or 5.0 or whatever version) will be built into Windows 7. From the aforementioned spokesperson:

"While it is too early to talk about specific details of Windows 7 features, we will be sure to build future functionality so that it extends, not replaces, the features available for Windows Vista SP1."

So now that it's (sort of) clear what Windows Search 4.0 is, here's what's new in the publicly downloadable build, according to Microsoft:

  • Most of the bugs affecting Windows Vista users that were reported by private testers have been fixed
  • Performance improvements have been made. Even in this "preview version," Windows Search 4.0 query times are 33 percent faster than search queries in Vista, according to the Softies.
  • Improvements to Remote Index Discovery is now enabling PC-to-PC search to work on all supported versions of Windows
  • Rollback Recovery has been added, allowing the search index to roll back to the last known good state; indexes are not rebuilt from scratch if errors occur

One more piece of information (to try to help explain how Windows Search 4 works, courtesy of our trusty Windows Client spokesfolks:  "When it is  installed on Windows Vista SP1, Windows Search 4.0 is an update to the Windows Vista SP1 search files, replacing them. On downlevel platforms, it is a downloadable feature, enriching the search experience and functionality. Windows Search 4.0 is an update for WDS 3.01 replacing it when it is installed on Windows XP or Windows Server 2003."

Is anyone out there -- on any Windows platform -- giving Windows Search 4.0 a whirl? What do you think of the technology?

Topics: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Vista Search SUCKS

    great idea but, at least for Outlook, searching is inaccurate and imcomplete at best. It's pathetic.

    That being said, casino here i come.
    • Outlook 2000 is a pizza.. .and my runtime environment looks like I use DSL

      Code named "Dorkey"for IE7. Everything comes together fine; with what? A menila color backing up Fax and Photo display. Darn DNA spiral spinning up the bubbles of my Aquarium Screen Saver. With The Clown Tiger Fish swimming around the monitor aching for a lighter pen outline. Nemo your a Geek. Those fish should be in water over at the Apple Store.
    • you suck! NOT vista

      you suck! NOT vista
  • RE: Microsoft releases first public test build of Windows Search 4.0

    I tried it on XP Home. It was slower than a basic search fucntion, but the amount of resources it used was larger and as hoggish as my 87 jeep sucks gas...NO thanks, Microsoft
    • I agree

      I dislike Vista's built in search: it just doesn't find what I'm looking for, uses too many resources and I don't like the UI. On XP, I've used Microsoft Search 3.0 and find its a system hog that also doesn't find what I'm looking for.

      I recently downloaded 4.0 and its better then 3.0, and searches are faster. But... I'm still staying away from it (at least for now), because I've had such a bad experience with 3.0 on numerous machines (I really tried to make 3.0 work for me).

      The past couple years I've used a few others such as Google and Copernic, but they all have blocking issue for me. The only one that reliably finds what I'm looking for and doesn't use a bunch of system resources is Mo-Search. Each version has more features, improved performance and fewer bugs. It only runs when you tell it to, which I find very important (there's no background indexer slowing down my computer - it only updates when I tell it - very nice in my opinion). It's free, fast, configurable, has a built-in file previewer, integrated shell support, easy to use, allows searching by: folder name/wildcard, file name/wildcard, file text/wildcard (or any combination of those). Overall, it's all I use. I still pull down others and try them, but I keep coming back to Mo-Search. If interested:
  • Why waste the time...

    ...on another second rate product from a third rate company
    that is only interested in further lock-in with shoddy junk.

    Is there anyone that still thinks that MSFT produces competitive
    products? Can you say Zune, Xbox, Vista, Vista SP1, WM,
    SpOT, etc.?

    MSFT produces only tedious junk. By design, MSFT builds this
    junk to use it to further its monopolies.

    Why waste the time with products from this thoroughly
    discredited and unethical company which has never shown any
    regard for the user?
    Jeremy W
    • as opposed to...

      What should we be using? I prefer my Zune over my wife's iPod. I've run Vista and Vista SP1 and haven't had any issues. I prefer WMP iTunes. I use WinAmp many years ago, but can't comment on how it compares today.

      BTW - Server 2008 rocks!
      • Winamp +2

        WinAMP is still the killer app for music ... I have it installed on every Windows-based machine I have.
        Rafal.Los (RX8volution)
    • What a rant!

      Wow, what a rant. Let me guess, we should all migrate every desktop to Linux because it's far superior, blah blah blah, or maybe Mac? Give it a rest, put the troll back under the bridge will you?

      That being said - I have installed WDS (I'm not sure how to get the version number) on my WinXP SP2 work laptop and it flies. It's finding emails, IMs, files, etc as advertised. I see little to no resource utilization. I love it.

      BTW, my 2 servers at home are Gentoo Linux, and my secondary desktop is Ubuntu. So there.
      Rafal.Los (RX8volution)
    • You know, I'm not seeing how the XBox is junk.

      In fact, it's still probably the best console out there, and by AGES AND AGES it's the best online platform of any of the consoles. Sony might be catching up that regard, but I'll believe it when I see it. XBox Live is the king of online, and the system overall has the best game set.
    • Let's pick apart your argument for 1/4 of a second...

      The Zune is a great deal better than the standard iPod, and as soon as the DRM push gets done with, and something better is thought of, the sharing will be excellent. There are lots of times when I'd love to hear a song, but don't have it. I have plenty of Zune using friends who have it, and therefore, I'm good.

      The Xbox was the most powerful system on the market, which is why it flopped. The same as the ps3. Size/Cost factors are too high for its power.

      The Xbox 360, on the other hand, is considered the best system by a great deal. Not too expensive, 1080p quality, well built (other than the first set, but I've never had a problem with my launch 360...)

      Vista is the most enjoyable operating system I have ever used. Everyday, I use Vista, and it makes me happy. It's beautiful, quick, simple to use, and is the first truly 3d operating system. Mac is still 2d completely, and Linux is barely a viable alternative. It's not overly flashy like Ubuntu, and not overly bland like Mac.

      Vista SP 1 made things faster, and even more stable. I haven't had anything crash since I installed SP1, except for when I was angry at firefox one day, and began shutting down all processes. To be frank, killing svchost (all of them) killing explorer, and ending as many processes as possible does that. I play in the registry, play with program settings, install betas and free ware all the time, and have no problems.

      if WM is Windows Media, then I just laugh at you. What do you use? iTunes? For my iTouch I am forced to use iTunes. I hate iTunes. It's slow, bloated, ugly as sin, and not intuitive. WMP11 is beautiful. Dark, rich color scheme, quick response even with a large number (as in 16,000) of songs, and full OS integration

      I often stick up for Microsoft not because I love Microsoft or anything, but because of people who are so blinded by stupidity as to not see the beauty MS creates. I use Mac everyday, I use windows everyday, and I use Linux as little as I can. Vista is by far my favorite.

      Ethics? You mean like Apple's ethics of pushing Safari on systems that don't support Safari? You mean like Sony's embedding viruses in it's products? You mean like every company that has tried to make money in history? Microsoft offers what is typically the cheapest viable solution, with the most support, largest user base, and most used system. MS supports every hardware under the sun. Linux supports virtually nothing. Mac supports all 2 hardware configurations it made. Who's really trying harder?
      • Microsoft products

        I gotta agree with evilkillerwhale, I really enjoy using the latest Microsoft products, especially Vista. I've used it since febuary 07 and have been extremely satisfied. I dont really have any high end hardware running it but it seems to stay pretty fast and responsive, even more so after loading SP1.

        I've especially enjoyed the fact that my camera (powershot SII), phone (tmobile Dash), and mp3 player (archos 604) have integrated seemlessly with it without having to install any extra software.
      • You dont get it...

        Its just cool to bash Microsoft.. nothing to do with facts.. and no matter of reasoning will help. MS could be giving out $100 bills and these guys would whine that its not enough.
  • Prerequisites!!!!????

    Must Download and Install Silverlight FIRST...

    Yes, let's see how much M$ shoves down our throats with each item we *might* be interested in.

    NO THANKS!!!!

    Mike Sr.
    • Think you need to read.

      You don't need to install silverlight, it was OFFERED to you on an MS site you intentionally browsed to. Opt-in.

      If you've actually spent a second to read, you'd have figured out to close the offer and continue on with the download.

      Nice try at deflection, Apple still holds the crown for worst distribution effort by malware type installation technique.
  • RE: stay away from WDS

    I downloaded Windows Desktop Search into my XP computer and deleted it after about a month. It was always running, scanning, indexing, or whatever it does- and slowing the computer to a crawl. Completely unacceptable. It's a rip-off of Copernic anyway- which works just fine and stays out of the way, as it should.
    • Disagree - WDS does its job!

      After using Copernic and Google Desktop, including running them together and comparing search results, I chose WDS:
      1. Best results, including searches within archived pst files
      2. Least crashes or freezes especially when running searches on network drives
      3. Lowest system resources

      My secret - I leave my laptop on every night and let the scan finish, then idle it during work time.

      Bottom line - I'll try it on my XP as soon as it is released.
      • WDS and network areas

        I have a home network that includes a laptop with Vista Home Premium and two desktops, one running XP Pro and one running Windows Home Server (yes, I'm aware of the data corruption issue). For the life of me, I cannot get the built-in Vista search to index network folders. When setting up the indexing settings on my Vista laptop, I recall needing to install something additional in order to allow it to index network drives (it's been a few months, so can't remember the details). Nevertheless, it never seemed to index any of my network shares even when I mapped them as drives. So, maybe I'm doing something wrong (very possible), but I just haven't been happy with the Vista indexing and search features when it comes to non-local files.

        On the other hand, I installed Copernic Desktop v2.3 on my Vista laptop, and it works like a charm! MS really should try to model their search after Copernic's tool. It is top notch, in my opinion.
    • Options R Included....

      Things like snooze indexing, and wait...there is more...check out the controlls-
      I tried the first one they released...helped my zany way of filing/saving more than once-
      Glad MJ mentioned it, think I'll surf over and give it a try-good weekend to stay in up here in the Pacific NW anyhow !!
      T Mike
  • What about repairing previous omissions?

    Does this now index the text within TIF files (which WDS 2 did and WDS 3 did not)?