Windows 8 Search could be better. My theory.

 

Today I wanted to search for Word 2013 in Windows 8. At first, I hit START+W and began typing “Word”, and then of course nothing came up.

Confused, I closed it down and went START+Z then found it the hard way via ALL APPS.

My immediate thought was “hmm my Search experience is broken, this is stupid. I must be doing it wrong”.

Sure enough, I realized after some rinse/repeat frustrations that each icon you click on represents the context in which you are searching. To me, that was far from obvious. It took someone else showing me that workflow before I realized what it was. I have made a point of not watching videos and tutorials before I use Windows, as I am keen to see how a Windows 7 user approaches Windows 8 without a crash course in the upgrades.

Ok, now I get how Search works but what made me a little irritated was that I had assumed Search would act globally. In that just like Bing or Google, you type in your search and then you are presented with results that are global in nature. Google for instance not only has the ability to narrow your search context via its Web, Video, Images etc. but in that initial search screen it also brings those results from each of those into the feed (aggregate function).

My thinking here is that Search should act globally but in order to do so it has to be quite smart in its formula on Windows 8, that is to say if you have 20+ apps installed and each has internet connectivity attached does that mean it makes 20+ internet connections outbound per keystroke?

No.

My thinking is that as you type in search you send out a broadcast to all apps and of course Windows 8 your current keystroke / search criteria. Then what happens is each app has a small agent that has a quite a strict footprint that it uses as a means to begin its contextually relevant search. The moment these agents begin the search they show a state of “I’m finding your answers” (whatever that may look like) whilst at the same time they head off to find the said answers. Once the answers come back it reports in the form of a “total results” meaning it lets the user know that “I have something here, you can now look at me should you find relevance”. This then invites the user to decide if the “Twitter” app may have the answers, it needs and so on.

The formula for search could be refined based on both frequency of use of applications (popularity stack ranking) and chunking with timeouts. In that you can do a search batch at a time so that if the search has to trigger internet connections per app the allow 30-50 at a time with a 1min timeout.

The architecture of Windows 8 right now wouldn’t allow this or scale very nicely but there’s this small little team in Redmond called “Bing” and they have this driving need to compete with another small startup called “Google” (You may have heard of both). I am sure if you grab these guys and their collective intelligence this is a problem that could be solved in a way that shifts people from thinking about Search differently when it comes to Windows 8.

I see this problem with Microsoft now. They are not paying attention per say to the bigger picture, in that if you want to start setting the scene for platform of the future then think beyond Apple competes scenarios. Think of search as being a Windows problem not a web browser problem and more to the point if you want me to embrace the cloud in a fashion that’s elegant start creating endpoint packages that have a sole purpose of empowering developers to write their own search result for agents like Windows 8 Search and so on.

If I was a developer and I paid for a Azure search result service that I basically connect inbound API calls to a data repository of my choice which then gets used by plethora of different solutions out there (Apps, Windows 8) etc. This to me is obfuscating the psychology of the cloud whilst at the same time giving me a content provider a sense of control on how my data gets prepared for searching.

It has not to say that Search engines cannot access this data and then reformat / index it in their own way to prevent me from hijacking the results.

My underlying point is that the future of Internet has and always been this TextInput box with a button next to it called “search”. The next screen will change as we move forward but in reality, more and more users of the internet and computing are keen to see just those two control elements on screen first.

Why make me click, you click.. I gave you what I was interested in. you go find it and do not come back until you have solved it. I don’t care about your architecture limitations, solve it, patent it, sue others once you have patent it but just give me it.

Search could be better!