01 April 2006

Windows Desktop Search rocks!

In checking through my email, my latest Microsoft Download notification showed a new iFilter forWindows Desktop Search.
And then it hit me that I’ve not noted my opinion on WDS yet.
As a SharePoint MVP, it should be no surprise that the world of "Search" would feature pretty heavily in my daily life, afterall, one of SharePoint’s great capabilities is search!
For a couple of years now I’ve held the belief that the amount of information we are managing has quite simply grown far beyond the capabilities of traditional File & Folder management structures… my 1.5 TB RAID Data server is testimony to that!  Furthermore, accessing information in such a "Jurassic" way is not only becoming harder and harder to do, but is beyond all else very time ineffective… and time, is the most precious commodity of all!
I converted my personal information access methodology a couple of years ago from Folder based to Search based access.  Now believe me when I tell you, at first it is very hard to "let go".  The human nature of resistance to change fights like a nicotine habit that won’t let go.
It is very hard to change your way of information access and it takes lots of time to fully "kick the habit" if you will.  Once you begin to realize the amazing ability to find information, even information you didn’t even know was there, believe me, you won’t be going back to folders.
Sure folders are still used… I mean, you gotta put the data somewhere right?
The point is just that the structure of the folder system doesn’t matter as much anymore.  All you need is somewhere to put it where your search tool can get to it and index it.
I started my venture into the world of desktop search at the continual raving of Michael J. Miller, at the time the Senior Editor at PC Magazine.  I’d been a PC Magazine subscriber for years and Michael would simply not shut up (no offense intended) about how great his X1 search tool was.  It seemed like every issue he found some way to note that X1 was a life saver he simply could not live without.
After continually hearing this, I eventually broke down and thought, OK, what’s so good about this tool?  Let’s find out.
I downloaded a trial version of X1, installed it and unleashed it on my data.  Given the large amount of data it had to index, it took a while.
The beauty of it was that it would index not only my local files, but also all my email.  Of course it was able to index files inside ZIP’s etc.  Suddenly, I was able to find information I never even knew I had!
I use Outlook for my email and it’s a pretty accurate statement to say I live inside Outlook.  If it’s not in email or on my Outlook calendar, it doesn’t exist in my world.  Therefore it was important for me to unify all my activities in Outlook where X1 could index it.
I found the IntraVNews RSS reader (yeah, yeah I hear all the NewsGator fanatics moaning already!) that was able to pull all my RSS subscriptions right into Outlook as email… where X1could index it.  That meant all the blogs and community sites now became a source of information for me.
Then I found a way to bring one of my most important activities into the fold.  Newsgroups…  I spend a considerable amount of time on the newsgroups and as anyone would tell you, most of the time you’re answering the same questions that people already asked in the past.  By usingNewsHound, I was able to bring my newsgroup activities into Outlook as well… and you guessed it, X1 could index it too!  The reason for my choice of NewsHound (there was only one other competing product at the time) was it’s guarantee of not interfering with other Outlook add-ins.  This was very important to me since I had several add-ins already in IntraVNews (RSS feeds),Snag-It (needs no introduction) and Qurb (the best white list tool around).
I ended up buying the professional version of X1 because I needed the ability to index network shares a.k.a. my RAID Server.  At $90 it wasn’t cheap by any means, but it was well worth it.
Of course once I discovered my new information access methodology, I had to pass it on to my wife.  The only problem was that I didn’t want to fork out another $90 for another copy and running a second copy is not just immoral… it is also illegal!
Right around that time was when Windows Desktop Search appeared, which finally brings us to the title of this post.  I investigated the tool and though it is still growing, it had the basics… and it was free!
I installed it and let it do it’s magic.
I must say that I’m very impressed with Windows Desktop Search.
I’m not real keen on the whole MSN Search tie in they’re trying to do as I prefer my Google Toolbar for web searches (lightning strikes me dead for not using a Microsoft product!) but as long as I can set it to just search the desktop, which I can, I’m happy with it.
Given the cool new features in Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 which not only has much better spam filtering, but also has native RSS capabilities, together with the upcoming ReachOut (I’m part of the Alpha program for this newsgroup reader in Outlook, similar to NewsHound) andWindows Desktop Search, there would be no need for third party tools… Sweet!
So if you haven’t given Windows Desktop Search a try, please do so.  You won’t be sorry.  You can download it here:
Also remember to download the iFilter add-ins that enabled indexing for PDF’s, ZIP’s etc.  iFilters can be downloaded here:

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