Office “Scout” Search Commands makes IEBlog cameo

Search Commands

Everybody’s favorite Microsoft internal-use-only-no-you-can’t-have Office 2007 powertoy, “Search Commands” (codename “Scout”), made an unexpected appearance on the IEBlog today hiding in a list of installed applications.

Jane Maliouta, program manager for IE8 deployment, was outlining the process to uninstall IE8 when she posted a screenshot of her “Add or remove programs” dialog presumably taken from her work computer. One of the applications installed was “Search Commands from Microsoft Office Labs”.

Office Search CommandsFor those who are not familiar with Search Commands, it is an add-in for Office 2007 which adds the ability to quickly find and use Office commands straight from the Ribbon in a find-as-you-type process.

For example, you could type “pictur” and it will return a list of the 9 most relevant commands in Word that contain the word “pictur” such as “Copy picture” or “Insert picture from file”. From there, each command is numbered from 1 to 9 for quick access via the keyboard.

As you would imagine, this functionality would be very popular with power users and even help bridge the gap between traditional Office users and the new Ribbon interface.

Currently it is only available to Microsoft employees because it was developed not by the Office product team, instead, a research and incubation team. When asked about if and when it would become public, the Office VP responded with “the Ribbon user interface is intuitive enough the way it is, and that adding another search tool on top of it would be superfluous and potentially confusing“. Apparently the overwhelmingly positive response internally since 2006 begs to differ.

Speaking at the MIX08 conference last week, Jensen Harris of the Office design team also made a subtle reference to Search Commands when answering an audience question and said to keep an eye out for it on Microsoft.com “soon”.

18 insightful thoughts

  1. The ribbon interface is nice and all, but we all want Scout.

    I wander if there is a weblog about it? Has a catchy tone to it, “Saving Scout”… kinda like a sadly unupdated Shipping Seven.

  2. I think the Office VP has a really good approach.

    I think I’m going to develop an application that supports plug-ins, make a handful of really useful plug-ins, then decide that they’re too dangerous for regular end-users but perfectly OK for use within my organization which is apparently staffed by incredulously smart Super People Persons.

    Yes.

    I’m brilliant! Patent office, here I come.

  3. Exactly, this is why I like your blog. I wonder how many internal goodies MS keeps and artificially limits inclusion of such functionality till the next version or so that their products sell. They may even have an internal Softgrid version for local machines that eliminates DLL hell and “the registry” issues.

  4. I think it was right not to implement this into the final Office product the same way it was clever not to implement any legacy interface elements (unlike in Vista). Why? Because it is important to learn the new interface by actually using it.

  5. good find Long.. right MS stop sucking! and release the damn addon

    “”I think it was right not to implement this into the final Office product the same way it was clever not to implement any legacy interface elements (unlike in Vista). Why? Because it is important to learn the new interface by actually using it.””

    pah noob.. making shitty excuses like that? people want power features and whatever is quicker to use.. not fagging around looking for some function when I could just type it in! and find where it was at later time.

  6. God example of closed source vs. open source.
    In open source all nice features are released when they are done (or not done :P) but it’s always released to everyone!

  7. @directimpact: So you mean that Jensen Harris and his team hasn’t thought about releasing this tool with Office 2007? Than listen to his presentation! Searching for a feature always takes more time than knowing where it is. And giving people such an easy way to search is wrong because it does not help them to learn. Instant-search isn’t good for adapting new things. That’s why we go to school instead of just buying some books!

    If you can’t find a special feature, use Office Help.

  8. It is still tedious to find those options, that which we need badly, this tool will enhance and save us valuable time.

  9. tino you point is utter shit.. why are you just trying to make up excuses for something that cleary people would find useful…. “And giving people such an easy way to search is wrong because it does not help them to learn.” lol thats sounds a fucking stupid as the desktop search team saying.. nah you don’t need this search bar.. if you just navigate through windows shitty explorer you should be able to find the files you are looking for… or are also saying the Office team don’t want to release a helpful search feature so that they can force users to waste time trying to look around for things?

    tino I just hope you aren’t in software developed because you are the kinda of person who to me would make retartedly awful software design … and as for any office presentation.. you do know MS fuck up so much stuff !? what makes some presentation answer the right one?

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