2007-11-12

Windows Desktop Search

This image implies the direct relationship between Microsoft and US governmental big brother type operations as well as the big bully MPAA RIAA organisations. I'd like to think this is parody, however if the owners of the logo feel the need to exert their trademark powers then I'd be more than happy to replace this image.I installed Office 2007 to get the new Outlook, Word, Powerpoint and Excel. To avoid complications with the large number of clients I work with, I didn't install the latest version of Access, sticking with Access2003.

The main reason I installed Outlook was because I was told how the search facility was much improved. In my experience, Outlook's search facility is the worst I have ever used; a beacon decrying the pitiful talent at Microsoft.

Imagine my disappointment when I find that the search in Outlook is every bit as awful as it had always been. I then approached the IT guys with my findings and they informed me that I had to install another piece of software to get search working quickly. Indeed I had noticed the little windows indicating that this might be the case, if only I had read it in more detail.

So I tracked down Windows Search and installed it. The software wanted to index every document on my computer but I didn't want that to happen, I have nearly twenty years of files in a refined directory tree that allows me to locate the documents that I need quite rapidly, so I figured out how to switch the file indexing off, just index my outlook files, thank you.

A couple months later, Microsoft installed this software on everybody's computer without asking, much to the outcry of the masses. Microsoft claims this was a mistake. I don't think so. To me, the forced installation of indexing software on every computer has many obvious evil intentions by Microsoft. Big brother is looking through every document on your computer. (1) They want to beat out Google from the desktop search facility by forcing their own onto your system. I have tried Google desktop search before and noted that it hogs too many resources to be useful for the very rare occasion that I needed it. (2) They want to make it easy to query your computer for files they don't want you to have or that you do not have legitimately. (3) They are working with external organisations (probably governmental or perhaps IP related) that want to track what you have on your computer either remotely or have an audit trail when they snatch your machine. (4) The software might report back when certain keywords appear in a document, just in case you're writing some sort of terrorist document.

I was safe, or so I thought. I had already told Windows Search to just index my email. So why was the hard drive ticking away? Oh, it put back "My Documents" in the search list. Bad Windows Search, no! I simply went back into "Windows Desktop Search Options" and remove "My Documents". Again. The indexing ceases.

The next morning the hard drive starts ticking away again. "My Documents" is back in the index list. No! I remove it. Maybe I didn't make myself clear. I don't want "My Documents" to be indexed. Hmmm, I located the folder for "My Documents", right click -> General Tab -> Advanced and untick "For fast searching, allow Index Service to index this folder". Not that we are talking about Index Service which is a different indexing engine. Hmmm, I have disabled Index Service already.

Next day; Windows Search is indexing "My Documents"! Bastards! Fine, I can put up with the slow Outlook search. Everybody off. Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services. Find Windows Search, change to disabled. Click on the little magnifying glass in the start bar (near the time) and tell it to exit. That'll fix it right? Not completely. Windows Search still shows up after reboot, it sits there looking smug. I am pretty sure it can't do anything because SearchIndexer isn't in the task manager - I did disable it, but I left the laptop on over the weekend. SearchIndexer shouldn't have done anything, but then Microsoft forced it to be installed on people's machines without asking so who is to say they don't force it to start whenever Microsoft wants. Microsoft has already proved that they are not to be trusted.

I click Start -> Run and type MSCONFIG and tap enter. Stop Windows Search from starting up and I think it all looks OK. As far as I can tell.

A few weeks later, I noticed Outlook thrashing the hard drive. Hmmm, was it indexing things it shouldn't? Time to completely uninstall Windows Desktop Search. Control Panel -> Add Remove Software, and good riddance to bad rubbish. During the uninstall process Windows Desktop Search tried to imply that everything I had installed after I installed WDS might not work. Nice try buddy. Being a Microsoft product we can't properly check dependencies, so I'll just have to take that chance. Any software that depends on Windows Desktop Search deserves to not work.

Basically, you are at the mercy of the company who created the operating system. They can do whatever they want when the software is not Open Source, and Microsoft is exceedingly anti Open Source. In the past I always assumed this was because it would be embarrassing for Microsoft to open their source code because (1) they are terrible at security, (2) write buggy code, and (3) have stolen code from other companies (they have settled out of court for hundreds of millions of dollars on a number of cases where they have been accused of stealing code).

I get the feeling that Microsoft has sinister motives with this forced installation of Windows Search. It was not a mistake, it is just too stupid for a mistake, even for Microsoft, particularly given the heat they have taken over the previous forced update.

Thankfully, Open Office is becoming quite usable. More and more software is being made available for other operating systems like OS-X (not that I trust Apple completely) and Linux. With every new system I purchase at work and home, the alternatives are carefully considered ... the number of Windows machines that I have to deal with is reducing rapidly. Joy.

Trust nobody. Give Microsoft the flick.