Stuff I've Seen is the name of a capability under study by Microsoft that allows a Windows user to quickly locate all occurrences of any item of information the user has previously created or read, whether in e-mail, address books, Web pages, or office documents, all from a single search box built into the task bar. Stuff I've Seen is one of a number of search approaches that Microsoft is reportedly considering for Longhorn, the follow-up to Windows XP.
Microsoft, along with Yahoo and several smaller companies, have (or are working on) new approaches to searching in an effort to capture some of the users of Google, currently the search engine leader by a significant margin. A critical enabler of Stuff I've Seen is the new Windows File System (WinFS) that will come with Longhorn. Because WinFS is a relational database, all Windows applications will be able to access the same information that a user has stored in the system. Assuming Microsoft delivers these capabilities in Longhorn, a user will be able to locate information without regard to which application stored it in the local computer and get Web search results at the same time.
With Stuff I've Seen, the user enters a single query and the operating system returns a list with references to every kind of information related to that query that the user has accessed before. An additional feature called Implicit Query shows a list of information items related to whatever the user happens to be working on. Yet another feature allows "Find me stuff like this" to be selected from the right-click mouse menu for any selected name or phrase. Clicking on "Find me stuff like this" returns a list of both personal and Web data related to the identified item. Another Microsoft approach called AskMSR allows the user to search using natural language.
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- Wade Roush's "Search Beyond Google" discusses Stuff I've Seen and other new approaches. (Registration may be required.)