Windows Vista and Search 4.0
Microsoft’s efforts culminated in Search 4.0 which was built-in by default to Windows Vista. One imagines that Microsoft considered the better search to be part of the benefit of upgrading to the newest operating system, but the problems plaguing Vista slowed and eventually stopped its widespread adoption meaning that the far larger legions of users still running Windows XP were turning to Google Desktop for their local search needs. So, in 2008, Microsoft released Search 4.0 as a standalone, optional download for Windows XP users.
Today, Search 4.0 can handle most of the same file types as Google Desktop and the two clients go head to head for local search. Google’s superiority in the online web-based search arena remains uncontested however. Microsoft’s only hope then, is the bastions of users (usually corporate) who don’t want to stick any extra non-Microsoft utilities into the systems they have to support if they can help it, and those who simply stick with whatever comes on their hard drive when they buy their PC. To this end, Search 4.0 technology is headed full steam into Windows 7.0.
The improved search capability doesn’t come for free however. Microsoft’s notoriously laughable official hardware requirements suggest 256 MB RAM (laughable) with 512 MB RAM recommended (actual minimum requirement for useful functionality). Search 4.0 also requires at least 500 MB of free disk space to store the index. However, Microsoft notes that the average search index requires approximately 10% of the amount of disk space used by files, so a now common 100 GB hard disk filled with 80 GB of files will require 800 MB of drive space for the search index.
Microsoft’s Search 4.0 eliminates many of the limitations of previous search utilities, but at the cost of significant overhead. Users who are able to maintain a useful organization of file names and folders will find their machines taxed by a service they don’t need, but for users who can never seem to find the right file, Search 4.0 may be just what the doctor ordered.