In August, Windows Search 4.0 (WS4) was released to the masses. According to recent tests, the performance improvements were significant: 26 percent faster for Windows XP and 84 percent for Windows Vista. We already know that WS4 will be bundled in Vista SP2, so it’s natural to expect that the Windows 7 Find and Organize team is using WS4 as the base for further improvements.
But the team won’t be limited to performance tweaks. When Vista was released, its search features were significantly better than XP’s. It’s time to take a look at what Microsoft is planning to do for search for Windows 7; according to information Microsoft has released to developers, search in Windows 7 can go beyond a local network:
Windows 7 supports searching for documents beyond the user’s own PC. Developers and IT professionals can enable their search engines, document repositories, web applications, and proprietary data stores to be searched from Windows 7 without needing to write and deploy client code. This enables end users to search their corporate intranet or the web as easily as they can search for their local files—all from within the same familiar Windows interface.
Furthermore, developers can add Windows 7 compatible OpenSearch support to any existing searchable web application by adding RSS or ATOM output (the desktop client can then have a Search Connector for the service). SharePoint Search Server can also query these compatible OpenSearch services (as shown at PDC 2008).
Microsoft released this information early so that developers can get a head start on creating their own search plug-ins. This is mainly aimed at enterprises, but it can be used in consumer situations as well. For example, Microsoft blogger Long Zheng has already put together a Windows 7 Search Connector for Flickr. Imagine being able to search through pictures, videos, and other files on your favorite repositories, all from Windows Explorer.