By Robert Vamosi (November 22, 2006)
Windows Vista stands to challenge how we think about files and file storage, allowing users to tag, organize, and search content in new ways.
With typical storage capacity approaching 200GB on most new PCs sold today and with the choice of large media files (digital images, audio or video videos) streamed quickly via the Internet increasing daily, Microsoft could not continue the same old file storage structure within Windows XP in its successor operating system. Indeed, Windows Vista is more of a hard drive file browser than an operating system, even going so far as to adopt within its Windows Explorer the look and feel of Internet Explorer. But falling well short of Microsoft's more ambitious plans for a whole new File System (the new Win FS file system is expected to be a feature of the new Longhorn server release due by early 2008), Windows Vista performs best as a transitional operating system, weaning its users away from file hierarchies and toward metatag-driven search. Nonetheless, Windows Vista will require a large paradigm shift on the part of users.
With Windows Vista, large volumes of documents, images, and media files become unmoored from the hierarchical file structures of earlier Windows versions by indexing filenames, metatags, and even file content. When viewed this way, Windows Vista allows users to create virtual groups on the fly based on a variety of criteria without dragging and dropping the individual files into various folders. Indeed, like the Internet itself, physical location ceases to be an issue within Windows Vista. This sea change affects many aspects overall of the new operating system.
Gone from Windows Vista is the traditional file path of folders and files separated by slashes. And instead of remembering within which folder a particular document, image, or media files was saved, something called Windows Vista Instant Search will point to the correct document or program. And, unlike many desktop search applets from Google and others, Windows Vista indexes your hard drive without much of a performance hit.
Just as we rely on Google to navigate the Web, Windows Vista wants to navigate your hard drive with built-in desktop search.
Tag, you're it
As on the Web, file tags help Windows Vista Instant Search locate content quickly.