Office 2007 updates for Windows Search

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Microsoft has released a new pack of ‘iFilter’ extras to support Office 2007 documents with their various search technologies.

Microsoft has released a new pack of ‘iFilter’ extras to support Office 2007 documents with their various search technologies.

iFilter is Microsoft’s name for plug-ins that will let you index and search certain file types – that’s in addition to the document that are supported ‘out of the box’.

The iFilters work automatically for Windows Desktop Search after installation. However for many server technologies you have to do some additional registration steps before the new document types are recognised in the index. See below.

The latest pack is mainly focused around Office 2007 document types for Word 2007, Excel 2007 and Powerpoint 2007 plus OneNote. It’s a free download from here.

The iFilter release is probably useful for anyone with Outlook 2007 because the ‘Instant’ Search feature uses Windows Search. Window Search not only indexes files saved to your hard drive but also attachments to Outlook emails. See our Office 2007 installation guide for details.

The download is most likely of interest to server administrators because Microsoft support for their own document formats has been erratic for the ‘back office’ systems like Exchange Server and SQL Server.


What’s New

Microsoft is being quite mysterious about the file types added in this iFilter pack.

The extension list is below but doesn’t really tell you a lot.



  • docx

  • docm

  • pptx

  • pptm

  • xlsx

  • xlsm

  • xlsb

  • zip

  • one

  • vdx

  • vsd

  • vss

  • vst

  • vdx

  • vsx

  • vtx

The Office 2007 document formats are nice to see listed, though Windows Search 4 already supports these formats so it’s not clear what this iFilter adds for users of the most recent Windows indexing technology.

It’s possible this iFilter release serves, in part, to bring all Windows Search users into line with support for the Office 2007 document format. If so, you have to ask (yet again) why Microsoft has been slow in rolling out support for their own document formats.

A notable omission from any Windows Search documentation we’ve seen is the question of file size. In years past, indexing systems only indexed up to a certain size of document – the excess in any larger documents was ignored. Our informal tests seem to indicate that either entire documents are now indexed (with Windows Search 4) or the maximum file size is now quite large. Either way Microsoft should tell users the limits in the indexing system. Our questions to Microsoft on this and other indexing matters haven’t received a reply.

The .one extension is for OneNote files – it’s great to see OneNote on the list but which version/s of OneNote are supported? The .one file format has undergone many changes over the two main releases OneNote and users are entitled to know, at minimum, whether OneNote 2003 files are supported as well as OneNote 2007.

The ‘.vdx’ etc formats are probably formats for Microsoft Visio however it would be nice if Microsoft said that. .vdx is also the file extension for a vector image format and a video format and while it’s unlikely that Microsoft would support an obscure file type over one of their own products – it only takes a few words to make that clear.

The .zip file format is a nice addition but again it tells users very little. .zip files can contain other indexable file types within them – does the iFilter pack index the contents of a .zip file or just the file names within them? For example a ZIP file containing some .doc and .docx files – are the contents of each document indexed (as if they were saved individually) or not? If there are nested ZIP files (zip’s within zip’s) are they indexed too?

In short – there are some smart people working on documentation teams at Microsoft. Why can’t some of them be transferred to the Window Search team and asked to do a full revamp of the docs? As it stands there’s too much guesswork and mystery involved in an essential technology.


Extra Steps

For most desktop and Office 2007 users (Windows Desktop Search 3.1 or Windows Search 4) then all you need do is install the iFilter pack.

Server administrators should follow these links for extra steps necessary:


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