Windows 7 Search Performance – Superior to Vista SP1 and XP SP3

Get ready for the Windows 7 indexer on steroids, as Microsoft will deliver the first taste of the operating system to the world at the end of this month.

With Windows 7 the promise is that the next iteration of the Windows client will be superior to its precursor in every aspect. This is also valid for the performance delivered by Windows Search or the indexer. Chris McConnell, a principal SDE on the Find and Organize team, revealed that Microsoft had optimized the Windows 7 indexer in order to offer boosted performance and reliability compared to Windows Vista, which offers the same in comparison to Windows XP.

In Vista "the indexer runs as a system service vs. as a per user process," McConnell explained. "This minimizes impact on multi-user scenarios e.g. only one catalog per system results in reduction in catalog size and prevents re-indexing of the same content over and over. Additional benefit is gained from the robust nature of services. The indexer employs low priority I/O to minimize impact of indexing on responsiveness of PC. Before Windows Vista, all I/O was treated equally."

Microsoft has already made available for download Windows Search 4.0, the successor of version 3.0, which shipped as a default component of Vista. Available for Vista SP1 and XP SP3, Windows Search 4.0 delivers a sneak peek at what the Redmond company has in store for Windows 7. McConnell indicated that participants at the professional Developers Conference 2008 and the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference 2008 would be able to test drive the new Windows Search of Windows 7 on the pre-beta builds that would be offered at the events.

"Windows Search version 4 as an enhancement to either Windows XP or Vista which goes further in terms of performance and stability improvements, such as: significant improvements across the board for queries which involve sorting, filtering or grouping. [Including:] getting all results while sorting or grouping has been improved - typical query improvements are up to 38% faster; CPU time has been reduced by 80%; memory usage has been reduced by 20%; load on Exchange servers is reduced over 95% when Outlook is running in online mode. With previous versions of Windows Search, large numbers of Outlook clients running in online mode could easily overwhelm the Exchange server," McConnell added.

Microsoft has also tweaked Windows Search 4.0 in order to integrate feedback from users who reported scenarios in which the indexer would simply go dead. At the same time, the new indexer is now more aware of catalog corruptions and capable of recovering and rebuilding erroneous items.

Windows Search 4.0 is available for download here.


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