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Find Anything with Vista's Windows Desktop Search

Lose your dependency on third-party search engines by integrating your applications with Vista's Windows Desktop Search.


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indows Desktop Search (WDS) 3.0, introduced with Windows Vista, gives your computer fast search capabilities, helping you find your documents, e-mail, music, photos, videos, and other items quickly. Microsoft implemented the search engine that powers WDS 3.0 as a Windows service that's shared by applications such as Outlook 2007 and OneNote 2007 to index application content and deliver instant results. Because WDS performs file indexing operations only during your computer's idle time, there's no negative impact on the user experience. But the nicest feature for developers is that, in addition to out-of-the-box integration with Office 2007 applications, WDS 3.0 exposes a programmatic API through which you can fully and easily integrate your applications with WDS—meaning you can let WDS handle searching and indexing tasks for your application's output as well as Office and standard file types.
Windows Desktop Search 3.0 is fully integrated everywhere in Windows Vista, including the Start Menu, Control Panel, and Explorer.
When you first install it, WDS builds an index of the file contents on your computer. Because it's purely a background task, building the initial index can take several hours; but after the index is complete and available, you will get nearly instant results when you search for a file. Because of the pre-built index, WDS is not only faster than any previous Windows search feature, but also produces more precise search results. In addition to providing a very generic search capability that works for most common file formats, WDS also allows you to create your own plugins (through IFilters) that allow you to search previously unsearchable file content, such as PDF files or custom output formats from your applications.

Although WDS 3.0 only ships with Vista, it's a separate component, so you can also use WDS with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/917013 for more information.

What You Need
  • Visual Studio 2005 Professional RTM
  • Microsoft Windows Vista
  • The Microsoft Windows Vista SDK.

Integration with Windows Desktop Search 3.0
Windows Desktop Search 3.0 is fully integrated everywhere in Windows Vista, including the Start Menu, Control Panel, and Explorer. The search experience is consistent no matter where users launch it from, because it's built on top of a single indexing platform, and it uses a brand-new property system. And because of its programmatic API, you can integrate your own programs with WDS seamlessly. There are two ways you can accomplish this:

  • OLE DB Provider for WDS—Works with WDS using the standard ADO.NET OLE DB classes
  • ISearchQueryHelper—An unmanaged COM interface you can access from .NET through a runtime callable wrapper (also known as Interop assembly) generated through Type Library Import Utility
I'll walk you through an example of using each interface; then you can choose which you prefer.


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