Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Competition is good

Here is further evidence that competition is a good thing. It turns out that Windows 2000 and Windows XP actually had a viable search all along.

Jon Udell of Infoworld explains:
For performance reasons, the indexing service is disabled by default in Windows. Burns, however, made a remarkable discovery. Even when the index is active, Windows almost never uses it. Searches are still dog-slow unless you prefix your query with an exclamation point; then the index kicks in, and searches become lightning fast.

This seemed so improbable that I had to verify it for myself. But it's true. According to Greg Sullivan, lead product manager of the Windows client at Microsoft, the search function starts bypassing the index as soon as even one unindexed file lands on your disk. Better to be slow than to be incomplete, in other words -- a strategy that Sullivan admits looks lame in hindsight.

Jon delves deeper and includes a short screencast that dramatically shows the difference. Sometimes, there's nothing like seeing.


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