Q: How does Microsoft Office Outlook 2007’s Instant Search feature work?

A: Outlook 2007’s Instant Search feature improves search speed because searches are applied against a dynamic index instead of sequentially querying the data store. Windows Desktop Search (WDS) continually updates the index with changes as long as resources are available to do so. WDS cedes system resources to user actions and other applications when necessary.

Outlook 2007 is indexed as a function of WDS, which is primarily administered through Windows. WDS is included in Windows Vista, but it’s a separate download and installation for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Starting the Control Panel System and Maintenance applet and selecting Indexing Options opens the window that Figure 1 shows, which lists Instant Search as a search location if it’s enabled in Outlook 2007. Clicking the Advanced button provides additional options, as Figure 2 shows. For example, you can move the index files to a different drive to improve performance. By default, the index is located in \%systemdrive%\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data on Vista and in \%systemdrive%\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\Search\Data on XP.