<firstimage=”//static.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/winxp.jpg” />What is it with Microsoft and “optional” mandatory updates? Windows Desktop Search (though Microsoft have dropped the “desktop” making version 4.0 Windows Search) probably made its way onto your Windows XP PC when you installed Microsoft Office, the MSN Toolbar or similar Microsoft product.
The update creates a full-text index of all the files on your local drive, but unfortunately does not extend to any network drives you have access to. In Windows 7 and Vista have this technology built in, on XP you’ll have had to install it as an add-on.
You can disable Windows Desktop Search but if you’d rather get rid of it altogether, you’re in the right place.
The first (and probably most obvious) removal procedure is via the Add/Remove Programs interface in Control Panel. For quick access, hit Start then Run and type appwiz.cpl before hitting Enter.
Once Windows has populated the list, make sure the Show Updates checkbox is ticked and keep an eye out for Windows Desktop Search and your version number. Click Remove and follow the prompts to get rid of the offending article.
That wasn’t so hard was it?
However, a quick internet search will reveal that many users were unable to use Add/Remove Programs to uninstall Windows Desktop Search. The entry simply doesn’t appear, and this makes it that little bit harder to uninstall.
If you happened to install the MSN Toolbar (which installs WDS on your system) then removing this may work, but you’ll have to sacrifice the toolbar in the process.
Sometimes the uninstaller will run, yet this simply removes the entry from your installed programs list, meaning the service is still present.
All is not lost however, and there are a few other things you can try if you’re still determined to ditch the update.
The first thing you’re going to need to do is take note of your Windows Desktop Search version. You can do this by opening Windows Update (which usually resides at the top of your Start menu) and perusing your Update History.
Once you’ve found out your version, you’ll need to run the hidden uninstaller that lives in your Windows folder. Click Start then Run and type in cmd before hitting Enter.
You’ll then need to paste the command for your particular version into the command prompt:
Version 4 (known as Windows Search)
Version 2.6.5 Beta
Once you’ve pasted the corresponding command into that window and hit Enter the hidden uninstaller should run, removing WDS from your system. There is of course, the chance that you’ll see this screen:
The Final Straw
If you’re still having trouble and have tried all of the above then help may come from blogger David Arno, who has packaged the uninstaller into a handy little ZIP file. This will only work for version 4.0, aka Windows Search.
Download [direct link] the file and unzip the $NtUninstallKB940157$ folder it to your Windows directory (probably C:\Windows) and open another command prompt.
Copy and paste the following into the window you just opened:
This should initialize the uninstaller and Windows (Desktop) Search should now have been removed from your PC.
If you’re determined to claw back some performance, or are just taking a hardline approach to unwanted software then getting rid of WDS is a start. You might also want to read about removing Windows Genuine Advantage from Windows XP, another optional-turned-mandatory update that can now be overlooked.