Microsoft’s Content Indexing Service

By Deane Barker on January 25, 2005

Where was desktop search when we needed it?: This is kind of old news for me, because I’ve done a fair amount of server-side search engine programming with ASP and the content indexing service.

It’s a very well-done service, and if you have a big Windows file share, you can make it walk, talk, and dance through a Web interface (for example: in your results, you can display the number of slides in a Power Point presentation or pages in a Word document and — if set-up right — you can get a thumbnail of the formatted document).

I guess I never wondered why it did connect to the client search tool in Windows. I think I just always assumed it was working. Silly me.

Today’s screencast is a 90-second short film that demonstrates Simon Burns’ astonishing finding that desktop search has been right under our noses for years — built into Windows but then crippled by weird design choices. In the screencast you’ll see how even when the Windows indexer is enabled, a search won’t use it unless you prefix the search term with an exclamation point. You’ll also see the ancient and obscure Windows indexing administration tool in use.

Sidenote: You can see in the little movie that Jon uses Groove. That always makes me nervous with screencaps — that they’ll reveal more about me than I intended. “Hey, why does Deane have a bookmark to the ‘I’m a Mamma’s Boy’ support group in his browser?”

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