Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vista #10 - Searching Vista #10 - Searching

If I had to prioritize my gripes with Microsoft's new Vista operating system, I would put its search capabilities near the top.

Vista has a brand new search facility that seems aimed at competing with Google Desktop for control of searching users' computers. And it is fast. It gets its blinding speed through indexing files beforehand. Think of it as using a humongous relational database with all the nifty file information stored therein. Which is fine when the relevant files are indexed, but many aren't. So, you do your first search, and don't find what you want. Then, you notice that it didn't search unindexed files, and you try again, and voila, you get the answer. I am not quite sure yet why some files are indexed and others aren't. I didn't have this problem with earlier versions of Windows, where I was able to control this fairly well (and it was much less important).

Then there is the problem that it no longer makes my most common types of searches easy. Up through XP, if I wanted to search for a file folder with "Canon" in its name, as I did the other day, it is simple to do, using "Advanced Options", and selecting "Folder" as a file type. No longer. You can search for all files, including folders, with that name. But not just for folders. Similarly, for other file types. There though, if you know the extension of the file type you want, you can, maybe use that.

Overall, in the name of providing a broader use tool, I see the search facility in Vista being significantly less useful that its predecessors. This sort of thing is not uncommon with Microsoft, where they throw away useful features to generalize a tool to make it more powerful - but less easily used.

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