Windows Blue: What's new on the search front

Windows Blue: What's new on the search front

Summary: Microsoft officials are confirming and expanding on many of the new features that are part of the Windows 'Blue' 8.1 release, including the enhanced search capabilities.


Microsoft is rolling back the covers (a bit more) on May 30 about its Windows 8.1 release, due out this fall.


As readers of this blog know, new elements of the pending 8.1 (codenamed Windows Blue) release include tweaks to the interface, including the addition of a new kind of Start Button, a boot-straight-to-desktop option, and the ability to switch to an "all apps view." We've also seen, thanks to some previously-leaked Windows Blue builds, the option to include differently sized Metro-Style tiles, as well as new and hopefully improved Snap options (including a 50-50 view) in Windows Blue.

Microsoft officials publicly confirmed all of these new features on May 30 in a post to the Windows blog. My ZDNet colleague Ed Bott has more "first look" details on these, plus a couple of other Blue features Microsoft shared this week with pre-selected members of the media.

Read this

Windows 8.1 unveiled: will it change your mind about Windows 8?

Windows 8.1 unveiled: will it change your mind about Windows 8?

The Start button is back. But that's just one of a very long list of changes you'll find in Windows 8.1, which will be available as a preview in a few weeks and will be released before the end of the year. Don't let the name or the price tag (free) fool you: this is a major update. Here's what's inside.

As I reported last week, there are also a number of enhancements to search coming to Windows Blue. In fact, some at Microsoft claim that the search enhancements to Blue are actually the biggest and most far-reaching of the new features included in this update to Windows 8.

On May 30, Microsoft officials publicly confirmed that Windows Blue will include an updated search experience that allows users to search across apps, devices and the Web from inside Blue. (The new Blue search experience won't search inside of users' mail for relevant results, but that capability may come later, once Microsoft indexes mail stores, officials told me.) In addition, the largely esoteric search experience in Windows 8 will be made more discoverable with Blue.

With Blue, one way to search for content — whether its on the Web, inside apps, files or in a user's SkyDrive cloud storage system — will continue to be via the Search charm. Users also will be able to just start typing from the Start Screen to find information, as they already can with Windows 8.

But with Blue, Microsoft has tweaked how it connects and indexes users' information, so that typing a search term like "Marilyn Monroe" will yield results across all local and cloud-based repositories of data. The results of a search will be arranged in a horizontally scrollable form.


If you've used the Bing AppEx team's Travel app, or any of that team's other handful of cloud-connected apps, you already have an understanding of how Microsoft is curating, aggregating and presenting this data. The new Windows Blue search results will look quite similar. The various screen captures in this post, provided by Microsoft, show off the way search results will look with Windows Blue.


(Speaking of the Bing AppEx team, there are at least two new Windows 8/Windows RT apps from that team that will be coming with Windows Blue. The AppEx team is building a recipe app that includes gesture recognition — for those wanting to flip pages without their floury hands touching their PCs and tablets — as well as a new fitness-focused app, Microsoft officials said today.)

As I blogged last week, the search experience in Windows 8.1 is not voice-enabled or controlled. Microsoft officials confirmed this week when I asked. But they didn't entirely rule out voice search becoming an option, either through the Kinect for Windows sensor or some other way, at some point in the future.

Microsoft plans to continue to reveal new features and functionality in Windows 8.1, drip by drip. Officials said today that the team will disclose more management and security features coming in Blue during the Microsoft TechEd conference in New Orleans, which kicks off next week, on June 3. 

A public preview of Blue is due out on June 26. Last I heard, Microsoft is still trying to hit its August 2013 release-to-manufacturing (RTM) target for Blue.

Topics: Windows 8, Cloud, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs


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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  • june 3 is not far

    hope it will be interesting.. and good thing is update is free
  • Windows Blue: What's new on the search front

    Search in Microsoft Windows 8 has been extremely helpful for me in finding files. Its very fast. Lets see if Microsoft can continue to do that with both local files and web searches.
    • No it hasn't

      You're just spouting off your usual generic fanbui nonsense. I doubt you've even used it at all.
  • Safety: Is it visually obvious where "found" stuff comes from?

    Since Windows 98, Microsoft's been blurring the edge between local stuff and stuff on the 'net, which is a bad idea from a safety perspective. The "live" nature of Metro tiles may already add risk, if it allows vendors to squirt content into the desktop of "your" computer.

    So when you say, search now seamlessly searches across everywhere from Internet to your own stuff, I'd want to know that what it finds, is visually discernible as being local or Internet, without the need to "right click, Properties" etc. (and that these visuals cannot be spoofed).

    MS's track record on this sort of UI safety isn't good; to this day, file name extensions are hidden, and what we are supposed to use instead (the icon) is unsafe because the most dangerous file types can spoof this by defining any icon they like.
    • Yes, it does

      From what I saw elsewhere, these search results are completely separate from the local resources.

      "But there's still a big piece of the story left, and it's more than just a revision of the way Windows displays search results. Say you search for something the way you would on Bing. Maybe you type in "Kate Upton" because you want to see her Sports Illustrated cover, or know how old she is. As ever, Windows will scan your files, apps, etc. for mentions of Kate. But it might also provide a link inviting you to learn more about Kate Upton. Click that and you'll get what's called a "Search Hero," which can only be described as a curated app with content related to whatever it is you just searched for (note: not all search queries will yield Search Heroes)."
    • Microsoft isn't leading the cloud

      charge they are merely following the direction everyone else is going. My company just spent 8.9 million for an ERP system that's in the cloud. That decision was made by the financial people and IT had no say in the matter.
  • Windows Blue: What's new on the search front

    Lots of people will say this is a great idea but how many people jumped all over Ubuntu for the same thing.
    If I search for a file I don't want it to be accessing the web. What if I was looking for my Social Security #, now that would be bad, don't you think?
    • If you found your SS number on some web site then that WOULD be bad.

      Could resist after applying some logic to your comment post. Grin!

      I knew what you meant, however.
  • Search has never looked so

    beautiful! I'm impressed by what they are doing...anyone who thought windows 8 would be perfect was flawed in their perception. 8.1 appears to be a step in the right direction...
  • I desiring to know the difference between windows and android

    I didn't understand the difference between windows and android. Any one help,, I would like to write article on our website:
    about it after your kind help .
  • Windows 8 search is worse tham Windows 7

    I've been using Windows 8 for quite a while now with classic start and generally its an improvement over Windows 7. But my biggest gripe is that the search doesn't doesn't search my 15 years of pst files. I was hoping for an improvement in 8.1 but when I read (The new Blue search experience won't search inside of users' mail for relevant results, but that capability may come later, once Microsoft indexes mail stores, officials told me.) I despair. We have google to search the internet, who needs anything else? How come Microsoft can't do in Windows 8 what was standard in Windows 7
  • I could use a better search function....

    No wait.. users in general could use a better search function, for a better Operating System. lol i am laughing at all these Windows 8 fanboys defending Windows 8 like it's really the next best OS in the entire world. While we are at it, why don't we talk about the evergrowing Linux that i have already gotten users on and others who are fed up with MS in general. They keep making changes so let them, i'll be only on Linux by the time Windows 7 expires.
  • Talking about Windows search ...

    I tried the syntax-based search MS started in Vista, and never liked it ... may be personal feel. The same search method (probably tweaked a bit) was carried into Win7, which is my current OS.

    I really miss XP's search interface ... it was good and FAST. Ok, XP's engine could not do a google or bing on the desktop, but I was either looking for something from my past stored files (for which XP's tool was fine), or if I wanted to search the net I would google.

    What do people think of the apparent degradation (at the cost of internet integration) of the very good search capability of XP as far as local files are concerned?
    • XP search worked - 7/8 doesn't!

      Agree totally - 7 and 8 search is totally useless if you are looking for a file like *Aug*.txt and the content search is just as bad when looking for some strings - you just can't trust the results! What I want is a file search that works and a web search that works - If I am looking for a sock, I don't go looking in the garage!
  • Looking Pretty but still no real substive content or Notifications

    Looking really pretty as always. But Live Tiles are not very good, once you have missed an Appointment or Notification. Microsoft should have sorted Notification Centre by now. So I will stick with Android Nexus 7 Tablets until Windows 8.2.

    Will try again using for main Desktop, but will probably just install Start8, before I can really take Windows 8 seriously for productive desktop use.
  • "Microsoft is still trying to hit its August 2013 release-to-manufacturing"

    Presumably Windows 8.1 will RTM on Monday 26 of August.
  • Happy with Windows 8 just the way it is. Will 8.1 be optional ?

    There are those of us (including myself) that are happy with Windows 8 in its current form. Can anyone confirm the upgrade to 8.1 will not be compulsory. Thus far I have been unable to get a definitive answer to this question.
  • I keep hearing... Bing

    Is there any way to avoid using Bing with Win 8.1? If not, might that expose MS to further lock-in cases in EU courts?