Microsoft Detailed Windows 8 Start Screen Search Features


The search feature in Start Menu on Windows 7 is incredibly useful and effective. Even though it’s been around since Vista it works way better in Windows 7. And now, Microsoft claims that they are going to make it even better in Windows 8, more specifically in Windows 8 Start Screen, according to Building Windows 8.

Searching via the Start menu has continued to evolve with each release.  The Windows 8 Start search experience builds on top of search features available in Windows 7 and provides a unique view for each of the three system groups – Apps, Settings and Files.

So yes, there will be three type of searches in Windows 8 Start Screen, Apps, Settings and Files, as we have seen in the Developer Preview. Here are the highlights on each of the search categories.

Searching apps

  • App search results show the full set of apps, both their friendly names and executable names.
  • You can simply start typing in the Start Screen and are expected to see the list of apps filter down to the one your are looking for.
  • The Most Frequently Used (MFU) – based ranking of app search results from Windows 7 is preserved.
  • The Search charm is highly visible, and selecting it shows the Search box.
  • The legacy but popular keyboard shortcut Win+R that brings the Run dialog box is preserved.

image thumb65 - Microsoft Detailed Windows 8 Start Screen Search Features

Searching settings

  • Settings search brings together all settings and Control Panel items across the system into one place.
  • The Settings search results are matched not only to the name of the Control Panel applet or task, but also to the various keywords that descript it. – very useful.

image thumb66 - Microsoft Detailed Windows 8 Start Screen Search Features

Searching files

  • The goal is to finding a file without having to transition to Windows Explorer.
  • You will see search suggestions as you type.
  • The search suggestions was made available to all Metro Style apps to use, to keep the search experience consistence.
  • The AQS (Advanced Query Syntax) from Windows 7 is preserved.

image thumb67 - Microsoft Detailed Windows 8 Start Screen Search Features

Why not combining them all in one?

I was wondering that too. Isn’t full-text search with a bit of more sophisticated ranking algorithm more efficient and user friendly? Apparently, Microsoft has its own thoughts about this:

Separating searches for apps, settings, and files into their own views allows room for each of them to evolve and breathe— this way they can each provide their own ideal display format—unlike the single list of results in previous versions, which required conformity to achieve aggregation in the limited space.

More relevant and contextual information for each file is also now displayed to make the search experience complete. This helps differentiate between similar results and also makes it clear to you why a given result was returned, by highlighting the property that matched the search term—something not possible in the Start menu before.

Well, let’s see if this works out the way you intended.

New Keyboard Shortcuts

Obviously, with separated searches, a set of new keyboard shortcut is needed to reduce the number of key strokes to improve the non-touch user experience.

image thumb68 - Microsoft Detailed Windows 8 Start Screen Search Features

But what about Touch experience?

Well, Windows 8 is built for touch, so if you hadn’t known, simply swipe the edge and tap on the Search charm to start the search. The new features and designs mentioned above works equally well for the touch devices.

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  1. I hate that they have separated the search into apps, settings and files. I wish it would work more like spotlight on a mac where it will search everything


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