An Insider’s View of Microsoft’s Longhorn Search

Longhorn, the long-anticipated upgrade to Windows, will have a completely new, search-centric file system. One of Microsoft’s lead developers last week offered a tantalizingly brief preview of search on this upcoming system.

Samuel Druker is the Development Lead for the WinFS team, responsible for designing and implementing the filesystem in the upcoming Longhorn release of Windows. The enterprising crew at Channel 9, a group of Microsoft developers running a video-weblog focusing on the internal goings-on within the company, interviewed Druker and posted the video clip online (Windows Media Player format).

The video itself is short — too short, really, to gain any significant insights, other than “We talk about good search in Longhorn, but search is a multi-level kind of thing.” Telling comment: “…all the way down to basic Google-like full text searching.”

Basic, eh?

MSN be likely be releasing its own crawler-based web search later this year, and it has been rumored that Longhorn will also feature web-based search in addition to the other types of file-based search Druker talks about. Whether this “basic” search is comparable to Google, or Yahoo or Ask Jeeves, for that matter, remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Druker is posting additional comments to the thread above that provide interesting clues about Microsoft’s approach — essentially that the new filesystem is a database, implying that you can do all kinds of interesting search-related things beyond just searching for keywords. Though brief, Druker’s comments are straight from a reliable source and therefore are worth thinking about as we await future moves from Microsoft.

Channel 9 focuses on a variety of projects going on at Microsoft, but it’s one of the most useful for pushing out stories about what’s happening within the company directly from the people working on projects. Another weblog that’s worth following is Robert Scoble’s Scobelizer blog.

And for great insights about some of the farther out, really cool research Microsoft is doing that may have a significant impact on the way we search in the future, check out the Adaptive Systems and Interaction group at Microsoft research. These folks are working on all kinds of interesting projects, including the fascinating “Stuff I’ve Seen,” a tool that lets you easily find things you’ve seen before, and Data Mountain, an visual alternative to bookmarks and IE Favorites.

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