Whatever happened to Microsoft’s plan to bring its unified search feature to Windows 10?

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Credit: ZDNet

In 2018, Microsoft officials began talking up the company’s plan to unify search across Windows 10, Office 365 and Bing with “Microsoft Search.” The plan was to incorporate this technology into Windows 10 in the early part of 2019. But it’s still nowhere in sight. What’s the deal?

At Ignite 2018, officials said publicly that Microsoft’s plan was to put the search box “in a consistent, prominent place across Edge, Bing, Windows and Office apps, so that search is always one click away.” The company also would be “supercharging” the search box so that users can more easily find people, related content, commands for apps and more before they actually start typing in the search box, as it will be contextually aware and offer proactive search results and suggestions.

In the fall of 2018, Microsoft began rolling out a preview of this unified Microsoft Search feature on Office.com, Bing.com (Microsoft Search in Bing); and in the SharePoint Mobile app. At that time, officials said “in the coming months,” this same Microsoft Search tech would be coming to Edge, Windows and other versions of Office.

A week ago, I asked Microsoft if the company was still planning to bring Microsoft Search to Windows 10, as no one seemed to be talking about this any more. Microsoft has a new blog all about the Windows Search platform, but the Windows Search platform is not the same as the Microsoft Search platform. And Microsoft is continuing to add new functionality to the Windows Search platform, not the Microsoft Search platform, in new test builds of Windows 10.

On March 24, a Microsoft spokesperson sent me a link to the Microsoft 365 roadmap which said Windows 10 would be getting Microsoft Search in Q4 2020.

I didn’t look at the date when that entry was added, but thanks to a post today by Bleeping Computer on this very topic, I just did. Microsoft added this entry to the Microsoft 365 roadmap on March 25, the roadmap footnote says.

Microsoft’s description of this feature on the roadmap: “We’re bringing Microsoft Search to the Windows 10 search box. Microsoft Search is an enterprise search experience that increases productivity and saves time by delivering more relevant search results for your organization.”

it’s a combination of the Microsoft Graph, the company’s centralized application programming interface, plus semantic knowledge from Bing, that Microsoft execs have said will make this more personalized and unified search experience work. The Microsoft Graph is what contributes an understanding of users’ work life, meaning the documents, the entities, the people they work with regularly and other everyday signals. Bing contributes an understanding of the world outside an organization, with acronym and entity extraction, machine reading comprehension and computer vision.

So the plan to unify search for business users across Windows, Office, Bing and Edge still seems to be on, even though it’s running late. Microsoft’s recent attempt to try to force more Office users to try this out by “Bingjacking” Chrome via a Microsoft Search extension — which it ended up revoking after user outcry — doesn’t seem to have derailed it.

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