Federated Search in Windows 7, the Better Way to Find Stuff
Article by George Norman
On 26 Mar 2009
There are several improvements that Microsoft will add to the Windows 7 operating system (details here, here and here), and amongst all of them one refers to the Windows Explorer’s search functionality. With Windows Vista, once could better locate items since you could search within a namespace and across namespaces; in Windows 7, thanks to Federated Search, you can search across PCs and servers (in an enterprise environment).

“Whether you’re searching or browsing, Windows Explorer is really about finding your stuff, and once you’ve found it, doing something with it (such as copying, opening, deleting, etc). Enterprise customers have asked us for a solution that simplifies finding important content in these various data stores but without leaving their normal Windows work flows,” explains Program Manager, Brian Paddock.


When you need to find data stored on your PC or on your home network, you have HomeGroup, Libraries to benefit from and enrich your user experience. There is also SharePoint, which allows enterprise customers to migrate their content to centralized content stores. The thing is that when you need to access some piece of enterprise data, you had to get accustomed to each content store’s UI, not to mention that as content pile on and on you would find it hard to access the data you need.

“Federated Search enables you to search a remote web service from Windows explorer and get results back that you can act on like any normal file,” said Brian Paddock. “The largest barrier to doing Federated Search has already been taken care of too. That is, most of these content stores are already indexed on the server, or at least on some server. There are several great offerings that will accomplish this, such as Microsoft Search Server. Not only do these servers index this content, but many of them already expose search results via a standard web protocol. This is largely thanks to the prevalence of OpenSearch and RSS enabled clients (including Internet Explorer and Microsoft Search Server, among many others).”

When coming up with Federated Search, the Windows 7 team had three main guidelines in mind:
1. People should find it easy to use it.
2. IT admins should be able to deploy it easily, with no significant hardship.
3. Developers should want to enable the functionality.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows 7, Federated Search
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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