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Windows file search and desktop search

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When it comes to searching for files, the standard Windows file search seems to be good choice, until you realize that it doesn't always deliver. I'm not sure why this utility, that has probably been around since Windows itself, has never done a good job. Windows also comes with another utility known as Index Server. This one, when activated, runs as a service in the background, digesting files using special filters, and creating a database of keywords associated with files. By itself, Index Server, doesn't have much in terms of a search facility, but it does allow for other programs to plug into its interface and query its database.

The Windows file search utility is configured to use the Index Server by default which can lead to faster and more accurate searches, but not all files are searchable, only those that have corresponding filters installed. Realizing this drawback, online search outfits such as Google and Yahoo have released search utilities known as Desktop Search that do a better job of indexing and searching files. MSN (a unit of Microsoft) also offers its own version of desktop search. This begs the question, if Windows search was a good product, why would MSN be peddling a desktop search program?

Desktop search is still and evolving industry and it gets better and more powerful as vendors jockey for bigger market shares and integrate them with their own vast online indexes. Meanwhile there are times that one needs a simple utility that can search for files and produce a list of matches. Some, myself included, would opt to write their own programs to do the job. I have since decided to make my own version of simple search available on this site. you can download the program, inspect the code, and use it when a simple file search is all you're looking for. You can find it here.

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