Desktop search is one of the areas supposedly getting a major revamp in Windows Vista, according to Microsoft. But if my experiences with the Beta 2 release are anything to go by, users are likely to be disappointed.
While trying out Vista, I did a quick search for a particular executable file. To my surprise, Vista couldn't find it. Trawling through the hard drive manually, I soon found the file was there after all. What was going on?
Microsoft seems to have optimised its Search tool in Vista chiefly for multimedia files. I'm sure that IT managers out there will be pleased to know how much easier it is for workers to find the digital photos and music they've stockpiled on their work PC, but what about other files?
Searching for anything else seems to have become a much more complicated and long-winded process than is currently the case with Windows XP.
For example, this is the process I went through to search for the install file for VMware's Player, which I had already downloaded to the PC. All seems well at first; Vista now puts an Instant Search box in the Start menu. Typing 'vmware', however, comes back with 'No items match your search'.
Trying the main search function, now called the Search Folder, elicits the same response. At this point, the inexperienced user will probably assume the file isn't there and give up.
However, you can choose a specific search location from the drop-down Search Index. Selecting the C: drive and clicking OK starts a search that eventually locates the VMware install file, but not until nearly thirty seconds have passed.
The search tool under Windows XP is often maligned, but is much easier to use and finds files much faster by comparison. Just select Search from the Start menu, click 'All files and folders', type 'vmware', and Windows finds the file almost instantly.
You may argue that the average office worker has little need to search for executables and other system files, but IT staff and other professional users will often need to. Why make it so tricky?
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