What's New in Windows Search, Browse, and Organization

Applies To: Windows 7

What's new in Windows Search, Browse, and Organization?

Windows® 7 introduces a number of new features and enhancements that can help IT professionals deploy and maintain desktop search, browse, and organization functionality:

  • Improvements in the performance and stability of the indexer.

  • Improvements in the performance and relevance of the search experience.

  • The introduction of federated search and search connectors.

  • The introduction of aggregation and visualizations to improve the organization of search results.

  • The introduction of libraries to help with organization.

  • Improvements in the performance and user interface of Windows Explorer.

  • Additional Group Policy settings, available on all supported operating systems.

  • Reduced impact on the server running Microsoft Exchange Server when indexing uncached (classic online) e-mail.

  • The ability to index delegate mailboxes for e-mail.

  • Support for indexing encrypted documents of local file systems.

  • Support for indexing digitally signed e-mail of MAPI-enabled e-mail clients such as Microsoft Outlook®.

  • An expanded ability to do fast remote queries of file shares, including on Windows Vista®, Windows Server® 2008, Windows® XP with Windows Search 4.0 installed, and earlier versions.

The Windows Search Service enables you to perform fast file searches on a server from computers running Windows 7 or Windows Server® 2008 R2, or from computers that have Windows Desktop Search installed and are running Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows XP, Windows Server® 2003 R2, or Windows Server® 2003.


Indexing of uncached e-mail is also known as classic online e-mail. In Windows® 7, there is less impact on Microsoft Exchange Server when indexing uncached e-mail. In contrast to uncached or classic online e-mail, cached e-mail uses a local Offline Folder file (.ost) to keep a local copy of your Exchange Server mailbox on your computer, which permits indexing of e-mail locally.

Who will want to use Windows Search, Browse, and Organization?

This feature is intended for end users and IT professionals.

Before deploying Windows 7, administrators should consider several factors, including the following:

  • The role of desktop search within your enterprise search strategy.

  • Which data stores or services you want to publish for direct client access in Windows Explorer by using the OpenSearch standard.

  • Current document storage practices and how they relate to libraries.

  • The importance of file storage encryption to your organization.

  • The importance of e-mail encryption and signing to your organization.

What are the benefits of the new and changed features?

A brief overview of the major new features and capabilities for Windows Search, Browse, and Organization in Windows 7 is provided in the following table.

Feature New in Windows 7

Improvements in the performance and user interface of Windows Explorer

The navigation is better organized and more intuitive, everyday tasks are easier to access, and there are numerous improvements in the presentation of end user content.

The introduction of libraries to help with organization

Libraries make it quicker and easier to find files. Built on the existing My Documents experience, libraries work like folders do but have additional functionality. In addition to browsing files by using the hierarchical folder structure, you can also browse metadata such as date, type, author, and tags. Users can include files from multiple storage locations in their libraries without having to move or copy the files from original storage locations.

Improvements in the search experience

The search experience is integrated into everyday tasks through Windows Explorer, the Start menu, and the introduction of new libraries. Search results take relevance into account, making it faster to find what you are looking for. Other improvements to the experience include the introduction of highlighted matches in the searched document, a search builder to construct advanced queries, and arrangement views. Arrangement views allow you to pivot search results, list the most recent searches, and provide broader Start menu scope including Control Panel tasks.

The introduction of federated search and search connectors

Windows 7 enables searching for content on remote indices. Integrating federated search into Windows gives users the benefits of using familiar tools and workflows to search remote data. This enhanced integration provides the added benefit of highlighting matches within the searched document. Windows 7 enables federated search via the public OpenSearch standard. Other improvements are the consistent UI for remote search results within Windows Explorer and the ability to drag and drop files listed in the search results between different locations.

Indexing of uncached (classic online) e-mail

Before users can search for e-mail, the Windows indexing service must index the e-mail store, which involves collecting the properties and content of e-mail items within the store. This initial indexing is later followed by smaller incremental indexing (as e-mail arrives, is read, and deleted, and so on) to keep the index current. Windows 7 minimizes the impact on the server running Exchange Server by reducing the number of remote procedure calls (RPC) required to index e-mail messages and attachments. Because e-mail messages are indexed in native formats (HTML, RTF, and text) there is no load on the server to convert mail types. Windows indexes public folders only when they are cached locally.

Remote query

Windows 7 extends the ability to search across remote desktops. Windows 7 or Windows Search 4.0 (available on Windows Vista and Windows XP) enables users to query remote computers running on supported operating systems; Windows Vista allows users to search remote computers only if they are running Windows Vista.

Support for indexing encrypted files

Windows 7 fully supports indexing encrypted files on local file systems, allowing users to index and search the properties and contents of encrypted files. Users can manually configure Windows to include encrypted files in indexing, or administrators can configure this by using Group Policy.

Support for indexing digitally signed e-mail

Windows 7 allows users to search all content in digitally signed e-mail messages. This includes the message body and any attachments.

A computer that is running Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows Search 4.0 functions as follows:

  • Users can search all digitally signed e-mail messages that they have sent. This search includes all message content.

  • Users can search all digitally signed e-mail messages that they have received. However, these searches are limited to certain properties, such as subject, sender, or recipients. Users cannot search the message body or attachment contents.

What's the impact of these changes?

There are significant improvements in how you search, browse, and organize in Windows 7:

  • Closer integration with everyday workflows.

  • More relevant search results.

  • Highlighted search terms to easily identify results.

  • An integrated advanced query builder.

In Windows 7, there is a new emphasis on organization with the introduction of libraries and the multiple improvements in the arrangement views and visualization of data.


Windows 7 does not support indexing the content of encrypted e-mail messages or any S/MIME receipts that are received on S/MIME signed messages that you send.

See Also

Other Resources

Windows Search Browse and Organization Administrator’s Guide