Windows Blue (or 8.1) to revamp search features

When users search inside Windows 8, they use the Search charm which then brings up three categories to search from inside the OS: Apps, Settings, and Files. Many Windows 8 owners feel that separating search strings by different categories by default causes those users to have to take extra time to click on one of those three categories in order to continue their search.

That's apparently going to change for the next major update for Windows 8. The early build of Windows Blue that found its way to the Internet in March has been examined by the folks brave enough to install and run the OS. WinSuperSite.com reports that the search experience will be much simpler when the final version, which may be called Windows 8.1, is released.

Basically, the new search, which is disabled in the leaked Windows Blue build, does away with having to pick from either Apps, Settings, or Files. Windows 8.1 should allow users to simply type in a search string to find anything inside the OS. The search box will also apparently include a way to receive web-based search results from inside the search charm, presumably from Microsoft's own Bing service by default.

It's looking more and more that Microsoft is actually listening to feedback that it received from Windows 8 users and are trying to make Windows 8.1 a more accessible experience on the PC. We should learn a lot more about Windows 8.1 in June as part of the BUILD 2013 conference and we'll be there as well.

Source: WinSuperSite | Image via WinSuperSite

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Back to what was introduced with Vista then. Also something I use all the time in Windows 7 but never in Windows 8. A welcomed change.

Now if MS listen to their end users more maybe Blue can save 8 from becoming the next Vista.

I know a lot of people are waiting for this, but I sure hope there's a toggle to turn it off.
I always hated the search straight from the start menu, as it just created a loooong list of stuff I didn't wanted at that point in time.

So MS, please, make an option to turn it off and keep the default (current) option.......

Hate to say it, but I don't think this has anything to do with feedback. It's just obvious that searches should not be filtered by type like this unless or until a user actively filters them. Windows 7 already did this, as reported, and numerous other search providers like Google et al have been adopting this principle for years by incorporating image results etc into main results. I think it was one of many things that just didn't hit the top of the to do list at Microsoft until after Windows 8's final feature deadline. Still, nice to see that backward step being reversed in this update.

Looking forward to windows 9. I guess they will fix many many problems by then. Its Microsoft strategy to go down the rabit hole and come out after.

Hoo boy.

So, guys that defended the 3-cat system as being perfect because "every-change-is-perfect-you-just-need-to-adapt", how much does the cognitive dissonance sting? Must be pretty painful.

Athernar said,
Hoo boy.

So, guys that defended the 3-cat system as being perfect because "every-change-is-perfect-you-just-need-to-adapt", how much does the cognitive dissonance sting? Must be pretty painful.

No, people just said it's not a big deal. I personally think having everything at once is better, but the separated results in Windows 8 weren't a deal-breaker for me. I just got used to it after a couple days. I'm happy they will not be separating them out anymore, though.

Most of the people who don't hate Windows 8 so loudly on the internet don't think every single change made is for the better, but most of them aren't big deals.

mrp04 said,

No, people just said it's not a big deal. I personally think having everything at once is better, but the separated results in Windows 8 weren't a deal-breaker for me. I just got used to it after a couple days. I'm happy they will not be separating them out anymore, though.

Most of the people who don't hate Windows 8 so loudly on the internet don't think every single change made is for the better, but most of them aren't big deals.

To be clear, the option to separate is a click away it just defaults to concatenated which is definitely for the better!

Finally! Now if they can also just display a small search side bar or something that doesn't cover the entire screen; There's no need to go full screen for search results.

Search results are shown on a thin sidebar not the full screen. That screencap is not showing the full screen.

abysal said,
Finally! Now if they can also just display a small search side bar or something that doesn't cover the entire screen; There's no need to go full screen for search results.

Well lucky you!! The new search bar doesn't go fullscreen regardless if your in metro or destop, it merely pops in from the right hand side of the page

ingramator said,

Well lucky you!! The new search bar doesn't go fullscreen regardless if your in metro or destop, it merely pops in from the right hand side of the page

Lucky everyone; the original design was horrendous.

Well, previous versions didn't have modern apps which allowed you to Search them. In Windows 8, when I need to look for something, I use Windows Key + F to find files and Windows key + W to find Control Panel settings.

Mr. Dee said,
Well, previous versions didn't have modern apps which allowed you to Search them. In Windows 8, when I need to look for something, I use Windows Key + F to find files and Windows key + W to find Control Panel settings.

Thats what I do as well but it really gets to me when im looking for an obscure administration tool and its in setting and the only result returned and me having to go out of my way to either click of keyboard shortcut. The concatenation is definitely welcome back with the ability to seamlessly split(which is what they have going with the alpha version).

ingramator said,

Thats what I do as well but it really gets to me when im looking for an obscure administration tool and its in setting and the only result returned and me having to go out of my way to either click of keyboard shortcut. The concatenation is definitely welcome back with the ability to seamlessly split(which is what they have going with the alpha version).


Also you don't have to click, pressing the downarrow key twice will switch to settings view.

Dot Matrix said,
There you go. And who says Microsoft doesn't listen to feedback?

Boot to desktop (are you listening?)
So-called "Modern" apps in windows, not fullscreen (are you listening?)
Start screen in a window (are you listening?)
Generally, support for desktop systems with large non-touch screens (are you listening?)

gb8080 said,

1.Boot to desktop (are you listening?)
2.So-called "Modern" apps in windows, not fullscreen (are you listening?)
3.Start screen in a window (are you listening?)
4.Generally, support for desktop systems with large non-touch screens (are you listening?)

1, Who knows, this may come as an option in the final build, either way I don't think it the slightest necessary but definitely a welcome additions
2. "Modern" apps in windows is kind of against the metro principles, they have however allowed multiple metro apps to be snapped.
3. I don't think anyone ever asked for the start screen to be in a window...
4. They have said they will be addressing scaling issues on large and small monitors after win 8 was released. Anything could happen now, lets just wait and see

ingramator said,

2. "Modern" apps in windows is kind of against the metro principles, they have however allowed multiple metro apps to be snapped.

I do find this extraordinary. There is nothing "modern" about enforcing fullscreen-only - it is like going back to the old DOS one-thing-at-a-time days.
On a tablet, fine, but on a large desktop monitor??? Snap isn't enough and there's no sense in such a poor and needless compromise.

And the product is called "WINDOWS". Not "Screen". If the "modern" (ha!) apps won't play in windowed mode, then this just isn't progress.
As I've said before, not metro but retro.

gb8080 said,

I do find this extraordinary. There is nothing "modern" about enforcing fullscreen-only - it is like going back to the old DOS one-thing-at-a-time days.
On a tablet, fine, but on a large desktop monitor??? Snap isn't enough and there's no sense in such a poor and needless compromise.

And the product is called "WINDOWS". Not "Screen". If the "modern" (ha!) apps won't play in windowed mode, then this just isn't progress.
As I've said before, not metro but retro.


You seem upset by it, if its such a major problem to you (I personally like full screen apps from time to time, a taskbar is very distracting).
Why don't you just NOT USE IT.
Noone's forcing you, and not using metro will not be in your way of your desktop work.

gb8080 said,

Boot to desktop (are you listening?)
So-called "Modern" apps in windows, not fullscreen (are you listening?)
Start screen in a window (are you listening?)
Generally, support for desktop systems with large non-touch screens (are you listening?)

You sound angry. Microsoft is moving off of the desktop. It's not the primary target anymore. Getting windowed apps is most likely never going to happen. That would go against everything Metro is designed for - Alternative input. Can't imagine using a Surface like device still stuck to that damn desktop. That would be awful.

Edited by Dot Matrix, Apr 3 2013, 7:50pm :

I'm looking forward to getting a Surface Pro - but Start8 is still going on to it.
Not angry, just disappointed. Maybe it's oldfashioned, but I care!

I was a technical beta tester for Win95 and various releases since then, and MS did take notice of the feedback it got. Now it doesn't.
I appreciate the need to move to touch input. But it shouldn't be at the expense of desktop users. Maybe a lot of new sales are of tablets. But there are still a huge number of desktop systems out there.
I simply could not do my work on a tablet. And I'm very disappointed that MS doesn't appreciate that the reason that such a significant portion of its established customer base is calling Win8 "the new Vista" is because of the (correctly) perceived view that MS doesn't understand the needs of desktop users.
For the record, I like much of Win8 (the under-the-hood stuff) and run it on my laptop.

I passed on W8 for many of these issues, which is fine, but what about people that bought W8, free upgrade a possibility?

Hahaiah said,
I passed on W8 for many of these issues, which is fine, but what about people that bought W8, free upgrade a possibility?

Of course, 8.1 was always planned as a free upgrade. It's like a service pack.

When users search inside Windows 8, they use the Search charm which then brings up three categories to search from inside the OS: Apps, Settings, and Files.
Others install StartIsBack and use the desktop search that actually works, like it always did since Windows Vista.

Dashel said,
Now just add a Spotlight to the Desktop and we're cooking.

and give people the freaking choice to boot to the Desktop. It really doesn't matter at this point whether Microsoft's engineers or marketing people consider that a good or bad idea, it would simply be a much-needed gesture of goodwill.

CSharp. said,

and give people the freaking choice to boot to the Desktop. It really doesn't matter at this point whether Microsoft's engineers or marketing people consider that a good or bad idea, it would simply be a much-needed gesture of goodwill.

If they're not willing to provide that, it'd be nice if they provided a way to give out existing desktop application links proper 'nice' looking tiles. Even if it meant sticking a supported .manifest file in the application directory. (detailing location of the small and larger title images)

The current setup where by small 32bit icons are 'pinned' to the start screen just makes it look a mess and not something I want to use. It's already a lot better then it used to be when released but it could be so much more.

Personally I would prefer to have some kind of Bold lines with titles separating apps, settings, files and, eventually, web results.
Said that the way it seems will be implemented in Blue is already much better than the actual one.

I agree, having the filters can be helpful. Just not as the default. Or are you referring more to the category view in Win7 Start?

I was indeed thinking about something as the category in W7; the full list of references but grouped by. The ability to filter could be an excellent addition as well.

'Listening to feedback' ? We gave the same feedback for over 1 year on every single build of Win 8, on technet, on the B8 blog etc. It was all ignored completely !!

It looks like now the dictator Sinofsky is gone the Windows team might be open to changes, or maybe they're finally hearing under the massive negative reaction.

Defcon said,
'Listening to feedback' ? We gave the same feedback for over 1 year on every single build of Win 8, on technet, on the B8 blog etc. It was all ignored completely !!

It looks like now the dictator Sinofsky is gone the Windows team might be open to changes, or maybe they're finally hearing under the massive negative reaction.

Or maybe it has been planned for an extended period, but they couldn't fit it in to the W8 release time frame. From the amount of changes that appear to be happening its not like this is something they could just throw in there in 1 month. Things take time.

The truth is that by the time the Developer Preview was released it was too late to make major changes in response to feedback, whether they wanted to or not. That doesn't mean it was ignored, just that it would have to wait for later releases. Hal Berenson talks about this in a recent blogpost:

http://hal2020.com/2013/03/28/windows-blue-buzz/
Windows Blue is also the first place where Microsoft could really react to the feedback coming from the Developer, Consumer, and Release Previews. Pretty much what we have in the market today was cast in drying concrete by the time the Developer Preview hit the market. At best minor tweaks came out of the Developer Preview and bug fixes out of the later previews. In planning Windows Blue Microsoft would have taken both customer feedback and telemetry from the previews into account. Post-RTM usage would come too late for influence over Blue and will instead factor into Windows 9.

(I'm sure with 8.1/Blue the situation will be similar - any feedback people give to whatever previews they ship won't have much effect on the final version of that particular release. But that doesn't mean it will be ignored, just that it will have to wait until later releases to be acted on.)

Edited by contextfree, Apr 2 2013, 11:06pm :

if they actually only shown that bar non full screen, then allow to pin apps to it.... that would be a nice changer, not the current abomination we have.

Wait, instead will pressing like Win+S simply just shoot out a search menu from the side of the screen and do it that way instead of taking up all of the screen for no good reason? If so, THANK THE LAWD.

KSib said,
Wait, instead will pressing like Win+S simply just shoot out a search menu from the side of the screen and do it that way instead of taking up all of the screen for no good reason? If so, THANK THE LAWD.

Keyboards with dedicated search buttons already take you to the search bar. Unfortunately right now, it's about as useful as hitting the Windows key as it's defaulted to search the Apps when you start typing in.. just like the start screen.

I'll be glad to see the search button become useful again. I've already near enough given up using the media keys on my keyboard now. I miss them.

Well that's another thing people wanted changed and they did it. Now if they'd also allow you to pin metro apps to the taskbar and have those run in a window on the desktop that'd be great.

Not going to happen because Metro apps sandboxed from the rest of the OS and people would complain about no drag/drop functionality.

dagamer34 said,
Not going to happen because Metro apps sandboxed from the rest of the OS .

So what?

dagamer34 said,

and people would complain about no drag/drop functionality.

Yes. But the missing drag and drop functionality is an issue either way. Why can't I - currently - select something in a Metro app, start dragging it and then drop it in another app on the Desktop I've alt-tabbed to? This should work regardless of the fact that the app is in full screen mode.

So, yes, the fact that this is missing might become more noticeable when you put the app into a window, but it needs to be solved anyway.

Agree would be nice to have this by default, at least ModernMix solves that issue (not sure about drag n drop since I don't use it)

CSharp. said,

So what?


Yes. But the missing drag and drop functionality is an issue either way. Why can't I - currently - select something in a Metro app, start dragging it and then drop it in another app on the Desktop I've alt-tabbed to? This should work regardless of the fact that the app is in full screen mode.

So, yes, the fact that this is missing might become more noticeable when you put the app into a window, but it needs to be solved anyway.


Yeah, and to solve the accidental moving of tiles instead of the "mode" customize they should do a lock button instead

The search box will also apparently include a way to receive web-based search results from inside the search charm, presumably from Microsoft's own Bing service by default.

Not in the EU.

I don't even mind, honestly. I don't use that box for internet searches, but I'm sure there's a way to override it even if it resorts to a reg hack.

I doubt it will be removed in the EU. MS can get around it by simply letting you add your own search provider.

It would be very useful and quick to just press the windows key to search the net.

The interwebs tells me that Samsung removed unified search on its Galaxy S3 because Apple holds a patent on that "technology", but presumably only on mobile phones and not desktop OSes.

I don't know about patents, but I know Ubuntu has had a unified type search for quite a bit now (others I believe before it).

Lirodon said,
Wait, didn't Apple sue Google about something like this?

I am genuinely confused, why is this different compared to te Windows 7 start menu search? Excluding the obvious inclusion of an internet search; or is that what Apple has a patent to?

Lirodon said,
Wait, didn't Apple sue Google about something like this?

I am genuinely confused, why is this different compared to te Windows 7 start menu search? Excluding the obvious inclusion of an internet search; or is that what Apple has a patent to?

Alladaskill17 said,

I am genuinely confused, why is this different compared to te Windows 7 start menu search? Excluding the obvious inclusion of an internet search; or is that what Apple has a patent to?

That's the funny thing. People complain about the Start Menu missing, when all the features the Start Menu had are still there on the Start Screen and Search charm. This is much better though because it searchs in-apps, settings, and internet all in one go.

Can't agree more. One of THE most annoying things, especially searching for say, Partition Manager, and having to click on settings even though it's the ONLY damn thing that returned a search result.

If apps is empty and Settings has the only result could you *please* take me to it?

Thank GAWD!! Can't wait for blue!

Absolutely! I'm not a fan of the Start Screen and blah blah blah, but those are apples and oranges sort of thing. But the way the Search works right now is just horribly broken. You should never type something and be left with no options and a 99% blank page staring back at you.

BoneyardBrew said,
HALLELUJAH!

Just tested it in my VM then. It is amazing however very very alpha. You can search stuff directly from the desktop and all results are concatenated. Skydrive is like the only search term that works, the rest pretty much force restart explorer.exe so I wouldn't recommend anyone do it!!

ingramator said,

Just tested it in my VM then. It is amazing however very very alpha. You can search stuff directly from the desktop and all results are concatenated. Skydrive is like the only search term that works, the rest pretty much force restart explorer.exe so I wouldn't recommend anyone do it!!


Currently downloading to try it in a VM - how is the new search enabled?

MFH said,

Currently downloading to try it in a VM - how is the new search enabled?

You have to make a new key and add a few dwords then restart explorer and you're away!

ingramator said,

You have to make a new key and add a few dwords then restart explorer and you're away!


Thanks, so classical configuration via the registry - business as usual