Windows Search 4 was released last month as an upgrade to Windows Search 3.01 (Windows XP) and the built-in search capability in Windows Vista. It is an important upgrade for every Windows user; it will be pushed through the Windows Update system soon. Here’s more information about Windows Search 4.
For the first time, Windows Search 4 can be installed on servers running Windows Server 2003 or Windows Home Server. This gives businesses an important new tool for finding information but there is one new trick to learn.
Many offices with Small Business Server have almost all important business files in a shared folder on the server, which is mapped to a drive letter and is universally referred to by its letter – “The file is stored on the N: drive.” Normal people in small businesses don’t have to be aware that the file is really in something like \sbsserverCompany.
When the server is running Windows Search 4, it compiles an index of the business files. When a user with Windows Search 4 searches for something in the shared folder on the server, the server does the work of searching its index and providing the results. The search is completed nearly instantly and it is consistent for all users.
(The underlying technology is referred to as “remote query” or “remote index discovery.” A computer with Windows Search 4 responds to a search query from a remote computer by consulting its own index and sending the search results. This works between any computers with Windows Search 4, not just searches on a server – a Vista computer can do a remote query on a shared folder on another Vista computer, etc.)
This is a significant improvement over Windows Search 3.01, which required each individual computer to compile an index of the files on the server. That created a lot of network traffic and search results were uneven – there was always a question of whether an individual computer’s index was up to date or complete.
Note the requirement for this to work: Windows Search 4 must be installed on the server and on the workstations. As far as I know, the only way to tell if it has been installed is to look in Add/Remove Programs.
Putting this to use requires a simple technique for searches.
HOW TO USE WINDOWS SEARCH
SEARCHING OUTLOOK AND FILES ON YOUR COMPUTER
Use the toolbar by the clock (Windows XP) or the search bar above the Start button (Vista) to search files stored on your own computer and everything in Outlook.
SEARCHING FILES ON THE SERVER – WINDOWS XP
Open the folder with the business files. (Example: open My Computer and click on the N: drive.)
Click the Search button and do the search from Windows Search on the left.
SEARCHING FILES ON THE SERVER – VISTA
Open the folder with the business files. (Example: open Computer and click on the N: drive.)
Use the Search bar in the upper right corner of the window.
As far as I know, there is no way to do a single search that covers Outlook and files in a shared folder.
Now go find something interesting!