Apple Spotlight Patent Reveals 3-Year Head Start on Microsof...


buckuxc

macrumors regular
Aug 28, 2003
208
0
Spotlight vs Windows indexing

I mentioned something to my roommate, who is a hardware and Windows networking nerd (he just got a 64 bit processor and a bunch of new hardware and Windows 2003 server, and is going on about how awesome it all is), about how keeping one's files all ordered on almost any computer is a full time hobby and how soon enough I wouldn't have to worry too much because of the capabilities of Spotlight, and he immediately responded that Windows has been able to do Spotlight's capabilities, i.e., searching, searching within the text of files, etc., for a while now - it is called indexing. I said, well I guess Spotlight just does it automatically and he said well all you have to do is go to such and such and click indexing and it'll do it automatically. I never used indexing when I had a PC, so I don't know anything about it.

I'm not particularly sure how to respond. I know he is wrong, but in every conversation he does his damnedest not to come out wrong. He, like too many engineers I know, believes he is always right, no matter what the topic is...education, history, economics, psychology...believing one knows everything about every topic must be a pre-req of being an engineer (no offense to the engineers on this list...all but one of the ones I know are like this).

So anyway, what exactly is the difference between Spotlight and Windows file indexing?
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,551
1,186
The Mac has had searching/indexing of file contents--automatically, without any manual steps to index--long before OS X.

Spotlight, as I understand it, offers benefits such as:

* Blinding, search-as-you-type-speed!

* One-click access at all times

* Smart folders containing live-updating search results (in Finder, Mail, etc.)

* Searching the contents of more file types than before

* Flexible plug-in architecture allowing new data types to be handled easily

* Integration into the OS and apps--made easy for developers to take advantage of

* More custom control over what does and does not get indexed

* Blinding, search-as-you-type-speed!

But that's off the top of my head, having never used it! And I'm not the one to compare to Windows content indexing....

I CAN say that MS has been talking about how great their future desktop search functions will be, and I CAN say that Google and others are trying to beat them at that game. So obviously the CURRENT Windows search situation is hardly up to what people need--much less up to Tiger's standards. What Google has now is better than what Windows alone has, yet not as good as Spotlight.

And an Apple patent going back to 2000 isn't a bad sign either :)

As for Windows techs "knowing" about Macs without ever actually looking into them... I'll try to avoid being too shocked :)
 

Photorun

macrumors 65816
Sep 1, 2003
1,216
0
NYC
nagromme said:
The Mac has had searching/indexing of file contents--automatically, without any manual steps to index--long before OS X.

As for Windows techs "knowing" about Macs without ever actually looking into them... I'll try to avoid being too shocked :)
First part, you're 100% correct nagromme. Apple as far back as the mid nineties in OS 7.5 had an indexing feature of files, though it wasn't great. This indexing feature (some may have noticed it starting at midnight, etc., depending on how it was set up) got better in OS 8 and OS 9 and worked inside many files. So buckuxc, basically you're engineer "friend" is laughably wrong, he'll never admit it but Apple, like so many things in the computer world, was way ahead of, and pioneering things peecee weenies could only dream of.

The usual, Apple invents and is the R&D department for the entire industry and peecees and their lusers are weak imitators. Which leads to the other snip from nagromme's comment, peecee weenies I think know and/or are maybe slightly deep down embarrassed for using such incredibly inferior peicemeal technology so defense is all they can do and feel because, basically, they're simply using cheap imitations, not the real deals.
 

robbieduncan

Moderator emeritus
Jul 24, 2002
24,489
13
London
Windows file indexing runs from time to time indexing the whole disk (rather like Spotlight does the first time). Spotlight does not need to do this as the file system indexes each file every time it is created or altered.

Spotlight is extensible and works over things other than files like email. Windows file indexing only work with the formats MS wants it to.

Spotlight enables smart folders.
 

Chobit

macrumors member
Jan 4, 2003
97
0
NY
Seaches in windows, even with the indexing, are similar in speed to searches in Panther. Spotlight is fast. VERY fast.
 

wdlove

macrumors P6
Oct 20, 2002
16,570
0
Good for Apple. I don't see any way that Balmier could put a positive spin on this. When it comes to innovation, he's in the second position.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,551
1,186
Actually, Ballmer's comments on Spotlight and Tiger vs. Longhorn were very insightful:

We love to be first. Searching. We were first with that. Nobody's even trying to catch up with us on that. Well, Apple has been doing some things, but they don't have Tiger out yet. You can't search without Windows. Apple is still where we were in 1924. We love to be first. Longhorn. We were first with that. We love to be first. In the next decade, you'll be able to search Windows files as fast as you can type. We love to be first.
 

dejo

Moderator
Staff member
Sep 2, 2004
15,725
447
The Centennial State
buckuxc said:
...and he immediately responded that Windows has been able to do Spotlight's capabilities, i.e., searching, searching within the text of files, etc., for a while now
I would've asked your roommate why Microsoft has a new desktop search tool if Windows already has this?
 

Kagetenshi

macrumors 6502
Feb 24, 2004
309
0
Boston
buckuxc said:
he immediately responded that Windows has been able to do Spotlight's capabilities, i.e., searching, searching within the text of files, etc., for a while now - it is called indexing.
One feature that Windows indexing has that Spotlight lacks is the ability to thrash your hard drive and render your computer completely unusable through near-constant disk access. Damned if Windows didn't get that one down perfectly.

~J, who spent several months trying to fix his Evo N800W only to have his problems solved by turning off indexing.
 

buckuxc

macrumors regular
Aug 28, 2003
208
0
Maybe that's why he likes his computer so much: it keeps him busy. He's ALWAYS working on the details.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,551
1,186
Does he work for his computer, or does his computer work for him? Mine works for me.

A parallel to the question: do IT departments exist to serve the people who carry out a company's actual business, or do those people exist to serve the IT department?
 

cwtnospam

macrumors regular
Sep 4, 2004
148
0
munkle said:
I wonder how Ballmer is going to spin this one?!
I imagine he'd claim that they "love to be first." That allows him to imply that they are first, but correctly point out to anyone who challenges him that he never really said they were first.
:D
 

SiliconAddict

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2003
5,889
0
Chicago, IL
Not to burst macobserver's bubble but while Spotlight and WinFS have similar technologies, WinFS is massively larger in scope then Spotlight in its current state could ever be. As an example. WinFS theoretically (I say theoretically because it looks like MS has pushed WinFS back to 2008 or for all intents and purposes never.) will go well beyond the desktop to search file servers, other desktops, other applications on other servers other databases on other servers all the while integrating into Active Directory. So say I work for Ford and I'm the business manager of their Hybrid division. I want to search on all relevant documents in regards to Model H of their hybrid prototype. If a group is setup in Active Directory I could simply say OK. Everyone on this team I want to find all relevant data for Model H from the time frame of blah to blah. WinFS will be able to access Active Directory see that there are 15 people on the team. Search each user's local desktop, come back with any files, search e-mail systems, discussion groups, files, etc, etc, etc and report everything back to the manager who then can further refine the search down from there and create actual search templates around this. So I could build a query that bundles all the various attributes of the data into a pane but include (as n example) the person's online status in regards to instant messaging. So lets say I have a question on document Z I look at the attributes and see that Bob is online. Double click on the attribute and it opens up an IM chat box. (MS now has corp solutions for instant messaging that has a bunch of API's that are accessible to developers to develop applications around.)

Its a damn impressive idea and is obviously once again beyond Microsoft's ability to manage. The big difference between Apple and Microsoft is that Apple didn't bite off more then they could chew. Microsoft did. They have been talking about WinFS in various forms and names since Windows '95 days. Microsoft simply doesn't know how to get their hands around the beast. It's a huge job and falls well beyond the scope of what Spotlight is trying to encompass.
Do not get me wrong. I think Spotlight rocks. Its implemented NOW. It's something that can be used NOW. WinFS sounds impressive and prob will be when it gets done but the fact of the matter is Apple has a local desktop solution NOW not some pipedream that MS will implement in 2008 or whenever they get around to it.
MS can talk about impressive ideas but that's where they stand. Ideas not solutions. I'll take a toned down solution over a grandiose idea any day of the week.
 

maya

macrumors 68040
Oct 7, 2004
3,225
0
somewhere between here and there.
SiliconAddict said:
Don't you mean his smell? The man sweats so much you could grow rice.
It a combination of many things, something is just not right with that man.It seems he tries to hard and falls on his face, gets up and does it again. All this effort to just look and sound like a clown, truly sad indeed.

He is trying to be part of the "IN CROWD" when all his attempts will never mount to even be considered. He comes across as a swindler, a con artist, there are too many vile words for this man. And these feelings are not brought upon that he works for M$ either.
 

clayj

macrumors 604
Jan 14, 2005
7,473
180
visiting from downstream
I just fired up my Windows 98 VPC, and there is a Find function (Start > Find > Files or Folders) that allows you to search for files containing text. So the functionality was in Windows back in 1998. I don't have a Windows 95 VPC set up right now, so I can't confirm whether this functionality was in that version of Windows.

EDIT: But, I do recall (and here's the KB article to prove it) that Microsoft had a program called "Find Fast Indexer" in Office 95, which came out in the summer of 1995.
 

SiliconAddict

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2003
5,889
0
Chicago, IL
clayjohanson said:
I just fired up my Windows 98 VPC, and there is a Find function (Start > Find > Files or Folders) that allows you to search for files containing text. So the functionality was in Windows back in 1998. I don't have a Windows 95 VPC set up right now, so I can't confirm whether this functionality was in that version of Windows.

EDIT: But, I do recall (and here's the KB article to prove it) that Microsoft had a program called "Find Fast Indexer" in Office 95, which came out in the summer of 1995.
The text searching it VERY rudimentary and sketchy at best. Honestly its comparing Lynx web browser to FireFox. MS may have spit across the finish line but Apple waltzed.

As for find fast. LOL. Anyone who knows MS Office knows to disable that floating POS on install (Or not install it at all.) I kid you not it caused more system instabilities that you could throw a Ballmer at. And never mind that it ate memory like a Ballmer. The initial version had massive memory leaks which was somewhat patched later on with a service pack.

The closes thing that MS has to spotlight currently is their Indexing Service in Windows 2000, XP and 2003. The problem is that in 200 there was some MASSIVE overhead to Indexing Service so most disabled it. In XP and 2003 its much more refined but there is no front end to the utility so for the average person its a index that doesn't do anything.

Apple and MS can both play the game who got there first. I don't know about you guys but its not always about who got there first its about who does it best. Rock on Apple. :cool:
 

Earendil

macrumors 68000
Oct 27, 2003
1,546
0
Washington
buckuxc said:
[...] So anyway, what exactly is the difference between Spotlight and Windows file indexing?
Download the Apple Keynote from MWSF 2005 and show him the part about Tiger and spotlight. THAT blew me away....

besides, every time I try and search a windows HD it takes damn near forever. Maybe I've been using the wrong computers... but I can search my 80 gigs for the letter 'T' and it take only a matter of seconds.

Neh...

~Tyler
 

iJaz

macrumors 6502a
Dec 16, 2004
540
0
Oh my god! This must mean that Paul Thurrott actually is lying! I can't believe it! :rolleyes:
Spotlight's biggest claims to fame, presumably, are its near-instant search results and support for document meta data, both of which are, again, planned features of Longhorn. But no matter. While Apple has been busy copping Windows features since Jobs returned to Apple in late 1996, the company's tiny market share ensures that very few people will benefit from Spotlight, despite Apple claims that it will deliver on desktop search a year before Microsoft ships Longhorn.