It's over. The big guy won.
About 3-4 years ago there were at least five serious contenders for full-text search of Outlook and the Windows file system. The best of the desktop search tools in early 2005 was a relabeled version of "X1" distributed as "Yahoo Desktop Search". Next was Google Desktop Search, though it was a distant second. Microsoft's search solution was weak.
On the Outlook front there was one great solution: Lookout for Outlook.
Microsoft bought Lookout, Google kept on going, Yahoo gave up, the others vanished. Now, finally, Microsoft has integrated the majority of Lookout's capabilities into a revised version of their desktop full text search tool. The result is very impressive.
I've been using WDS for a few weeks now, and at long last I'm removing Lookout for Outlook from my system. It hung on a very long time. I've removed X1/YDS from home and work, it was getting increasingly flaky with each Microsoft system patch (some things never change).
Eventually Microsoft will decide it's time to move their corporate customers to Vista and WDS/XP will die, but for now it rules.
Recommended, but as is usual with Microsoft these days, there are some caveats:
- Many of the Microsoft web pages referring to WDS are obsolete and have bad links.
- There are two ways to install. One installs only Windows Desktop Search, but no IE or Outlook toolbars. The other installs Windows Live Toolbar into IE and a separate Outlook toolbar. Windows Live Toolbar is also used to host my favorite blog writer. I recommend the second install, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were somewhat different applications.
- Toolbar installation into Outlook can be problematic. See the help links on the post-install page.
- Be sure to look at the help file (hallelujah, it's the OLD style Windows help) and look at the keyboard shortcusts and advanced operators such as "has:attachment", "before 10/1/2007", "filename:fred", "store:outlook", "kind:tasks", etc.
- Use the keyboard shortcut: windows-shift-F.
PS. Recently Google has sued to facilitate replacing Vista's search with GDS. Microsoft must be smiling about that. This is one battle Google isn't going to win.