Windows Desktop Search for Enterprise
1 December 2005 in Search Technology | Comments enabled

A couple of weeks ago Microsoft released the first version of their Windows Desktop Search (WDS) product tailored for the Enterprise. The feature that most impressed me was the ability to integrate your intranet search results with the desktop search results (their example being SharePoint – which we use for our intranet). Today I finally took some time to download it and give it a spin.

A small heads up
Microsoft have a product called MSN Desktop Search. This was their first release of their desktop search product. It is aimed at the normal desktop user, it doesn’t allow any central administration or intranet search options. Microsoft then released their Enterprise version as Windows Desktop Search (note it’s now “Windows”, not “MSN”). It’s all a bit confusing, but essentially they’re the same thing. For the sake of this entry I’m going to refer to both products as Windows Desktop Search since they’re essentially the same core product. Now back to the entry.

There are several parts you need to download to setup WDS for the enterprise:

  • The desktop search application
  • .ADM file for group policy
  • Instructions file on how to configure the enterprise features

So I took a few moments to download it all and apply the ADM file to get access to the extra settings. You don’t need this to be applied but without it I couldn’t use the intranet search features which is what I really wanted to see. When I realised that setting the intranet search simply meant setting a url with a query passed in I started to think it might not be true integration of intranet search. Unfortunately once I had it all sorted it became evident that I wasn’t going to get the nice integrated result set that I was looking for.

What you get with the “Integrated Intranet Search” is another search button:

When you click on this it simple launches the search results page off your intranet. It is a step in the right direction to consolidate the location of your search query, but really isn’t what I would call intranet integration. What it should be doing is realise that I’m using SharePoint – another Microsoft product – and simply hit the search behind the scenes and integrate the results into the primary result set. That would be a heck of a lot cooler – not to mention useful (I’m not saying it shouldn’t work with products not from Microsoft, but they should do it better and perhaps provide a connector API for third party intranet search products to release their own add-ins).

There are more settings available targeting enterprise users which I haven’t touched on here, if I find anything particularly compelling I’ll post it.

The nice thing is that Microsoft have done really well with this tool and it would be great to see them maintain the track record of this product and push the boundaries even further. I don’t quite feel like it offers enough to be compelling to the enterprise – yet.

– JD


2 comments. Add your own comment.

Jerome Angles says 31 March 2006 @ 01:10

A point that looks to me as a crucial feature for those search bars: the capability to index removable media like CD’s, DVD’s… Especially in the context of Information Life Management. Information is moving now a days and tends to end up on a piece of plastic. So far I only find an add-in the GDS able to do the job. I am surprised Windows hasnĀ“t thought about that.

traskjd says 31 March 2006 @ 06:48

Agreed, it would be very useful. I personally don’t use CD/DVDs all that much these days due to the cheapness of harddisks however I could see it being useful for things like MSDN CDs (having had to find a file on one CD that took an entire day as I didn’t know which CD it was on).

Thanks for posting,

– JD

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