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Windows Search 4 vs Vista built-in search

by Brandon on June 7th, 2008

When I first posted about the WS4 release on Neowin a few members had a response that I had never expected.  Some examples:

Windam – I wonder why this would be released for Vista since search is already a well integrated feature to begin with.
Is it just because(optional)?

Maudit – Pardon my ignorance, but what the difference between Windows Search 4.0 and the one in Vista ultimate sp1, does it streamline into windows ?

A similar question was asked on Channel 9.

The answer is quite simple:

  • Windows Vista includes “Windows Search 3.0”
  • Windows Search 4 is an upgraded version of the indexer built-in to Vista.
  • This release does not change the User Interface, it looks exactly the same.  The improvements are around responsiveness, resource usage, reliability, API support, etc.


A good analogy here might be DirectX.  Windows XP shipped with DirectX 8.1.  When DirectX 9 was released for XP, it didn’t change the way anything looked or behaved, but it made your system better.  You may apply a similar understanding to WS4.

From → WDS FAQ

  1. MioTheGreat permalink

    This is probably because no one ever calls Vista’s searching capabilities “Windows Search 3” by anyone. It’s just Vista’s search/index/whatever people want to call it.

    Maybe if you guys renamed the update to something like a “Performance and Reliability Update for Windows Search” this confusion wouldn’t occur.

  2. Jeremy permalink

    Hi Brandon,
    WDS 4.0 is freakin’ awesome! I’ve installed it on all 10 of the Vista machines in my small business and users are extremely pleased with the performance increase. The ability to search the index of a network share is greatly welcome and works extremely well. Congrats.

    One question. Is there any way to get network share results to show up in the Instant Search results of the start menu?


  3. Amirz permalink

    WDS 4.0 Xp edition also hosting vista only preview handler for xp. now i can preview/play mp3 directly in WDS 4.0 preview pane in Xp instead of just album art picture such in previous (WDS 3.1) version.
    to preview/play mp3 and other preview handler supported files, you need Azar’s WMP preview handler for xp that you can download for free:
    Thanks for the awesome tools. Good luck.

  4. Steven permalink

    I just installed your indexer gadget on Vista and was surprised to see only version 3 of Windows Search was installed (my system is up to date). Why not release it via windows update? Are there many more such useful updates that not released via windows update? How do I find them? I want to have my system running at its best.

    Thank you.

  5. Janne permalink

    I would also like to know how to get the network share search results in the start menu. I have moved most of my documents to Windows Home Server. I really don’t want to lose the only big improvement in Vista, direct search from start menu, just because I bought an expensive home server. Please, Brandon, could you respond and tell us how to do it.

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