Curtis Johnstone Curtis Johnstone's Personal Blog

July 28, 2010

Microsoft Windows Search – Quick Facts

If you are confused about searching on different Windows operating systems, you are not alone.  If you are a Microsoft Outlook user (2007 and greater), the native indexing functionality is required to get the simple and fast Instant Search capabilities in Outlook.

There are 2 native indexing solutions used on Microsoft operating systems:

  1. The ‘legacy’ Indexing Service.  This was used on Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003.  I had issues with it on Windows 2003.
  2. The ‘new’ Windows Search Service.  This is used in Windows 7 and Windows 2008, and I think Windows Vista.

There is a new Windows Search 4.0 available for Win XP SP2+, Windows 2003 R2, Windows Vista SP1, and Windows Server 2008. You can download it here.

You cannot run both the Indexing Service and the Windows Search service on the same machine.

Windows Search Service

Be careful enabling Windows Search on an entire volume (aka disk partition).  This can significantly affect system performance.

For desktop users, you are better to just specify individual locations (folders) using the Indexing Options in the Control Panel.

Note: on Windows Server 2008 R2, this is enabled as a separate feature installed under the File Server role.

More Information & Resources

What are IFilters?

IFilters are components of the indexing service that is able to read a particular type file and expose the associated data to the indexing service. For example, there are default IFilters for a whole bunch of common file types such as Email, Contacts, Word Documents, etc… that have been included with Windows 2000 and subsequent versions.

The native supported file types are listed here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/desktopsearch/technicalresources/filetypes.mspx.

There are IFilters available as add-on’s available here: Microsoft Windows Search Add-On’s.  There is also an API available for writing your own IFilter if you have been inventive enough to define your own data types.

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