Vista SP2: Seamless, Simple, but Search Still Lags

I’ve been talking here about the upgrade to Windows 7, which has been quite pleasant so far. It’s quicker, with some nice UI improvements, and other bits and pieces I’ll talk about in other posts before long, I suspect. But being the glutton for punishment I am, this evening before dinner I decided to try the other big Microsoft OS change this month – the new service pack (SP2) for Vista, which I run on my iDell (the XPS, if you insist on correct nomenclature.) My conclusions?

I have nothing but good things to say about applying the update. I checked on Windows Update because I didn’t want to wait for it, and seeing it was there, hit the Start button. It’s hundreds of megs, so I let it download and run while dinner was being prepared and consumed. No hitches, no glitches. On restart, everything was there as it should be, everything still works, and I’m only likely to notice if I go for a couple of the new added bits:

  • Blu-Ray Disc media recording. Don’t need it right now, but soon…
  • Bluetooth v2.1 and Windows Connect Now (WCN) Wi-Fi Configuration. Both will show up in devices I may use, and make them easier to set up, pair, etc.  And use less power. Very nice. Still awake? Here’s the big one…
  • Windows Search 4.0, which claims improved indexing and search relevance. The list of what is searched has grown: documents, e-mail, music files, photos, and unspecified “other items on the computer.”  Microsoft is now using the same search in Windows itself, Outlook and Microsoft OneNote.

Sorry to say, this was a bit of a letdown. I didn’t do an exhaustive comparison, but since Google Desktop search is on my machine I tried a couple of quick comparisons. Both found things that surprised me: words within PDFs, words within annotations on PDFs I used PDF X-Change with. Impressive. Google also found a few words inside the notes I had inside PPTs, which so far did not show up in Windows – but perhaps once it has done some more background indexing of my machine that will change.

The biggest and most useful difference for me was the fact that Google found words within cached web pages I’d visited. Since I research things on the web a lot, this is very valuable to me – it takes me back to places I visited when I want to get there fast, based on content.

For now, then, I’m unlikely to switch search tools. Still, I know there have been many fixes applied throughout the OS that make it more stable, more secure, and support more devices and protocols. It’s well worth the time it took.

About Merv Adrian
Gartner Research VP, technology analyst and consultant, 30 years of industry experience, covering software mostly, hardware sometimes.

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