Product review: Windows Search 4.0 found slim and trim
The upgrade to Windows' integrated search tool improves performance for users while adding much-needed manageability features for IT
Indexing performance was also supposed to have improved. However, testing under Vista Business (SP1) showed that it actually slowed by 17 percent. It took Search 4.0 a full 252 seconds to index a sample folder structure consisting of roughly 425MB of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio) data files, Adobe Acrobat PDF files, and a mix of text and Visual Studio source code files.
Speeds and feeds
By contrast, the original Windows Vista indexing mechanism took only 215 seconds. To add insult to injury, the Desktop Search 4.0 indexer on Windows XP did the job in 165 seconds – almost 53 percent faster than the same scenario under Vista with the Search 4.0 update applied. Plus, XP pulled off this feat while generating a lower CPU footprint than the original Vista-integrated search configuration, though the footprint of Desktop Search 4.0 on XP was not quite as small as that of Search 4.0 on Vista.
Testing was conducted on a Core 2 Duo (E6700) desktop with 4GB of RAM and 10,000-rpm disk. For the CPU utilization tests, we configured a base OS installation, including all relevant device drivers, and added the DMS Clarity Tracker agent from the Windows Sentinel site. We then copied the 425MB folder structure from a network share point to the Documents folder and monitored the system as the SearchIndexer and SearchProtocolHost processes kicked in and indexed the new content. For the raw indexing performance tests, we forced a re-indexing of the folder structure from the Indexing Options Control Panel applet and timed how long it took for the search engine to complete the job on an otherwise idle PC (no other user activity).
Overall, Windows Search 4.0 is nice improvement over Desktop Search 3.x under XP and the integrated search in Vista and Windows Server 2008. Microsoft has managed to address most of the major objections to using Windows Search in the enterprise, including the lack of full manageability extensions for Group Policies. Combined with good overall search performance and an ultra-low price (it’s a free update), these enhancements make Windows Search 4.0 a no-brainer upgrade for any Windows IT shop.