Microsoft's intelligent, context-aware search boxes are coming to all of its apps and services

Search appears to be as integral to Microsoft's productivity vision as Google.

Credit: Mark Hachman / IDG

Last September, Microsoft began rolling out a more intelligent Microsoft Search that understands both the context of your query as well as what you’re asking. At Microsoft Build, Microsoft will announce that the Microsoft Search box will roll out across all Microsoft apps and services, and as a worldwide feature by the end of May.

Jared Spataro, the corporate vice president in charge of Office, last year explained Microsoft Search as an answer to the constant rollout of new features, each with its own icon or menu item that can clutter an app or web page. Microsoft Search doesn’t do this. Instead, it simply adds more power, behind the scenes, to the search bar you’re already familiar with. Windows Search already appears on and

What’s sometimes confusing about Microsoft Search is that it’s context-aware. As a home user, you’ll receive different results from Bing, for example, than you would if you worked at a particular company. At the office, and logged into the Microsoft Graph, Bing will surface work-specific answers to your queries. So while it’s fair to say that Bing is in fact a Microsoft search engine, what it talks to will vary depending on your particular environment.

Microsoft search box Mark Hachman / IDG

Here’s what Microsoft Search looks like on an actual page: it’s the search box, way up top.

Microsoft promises that Windows Search will become smarter as it becomes more prevalent. Today, Microsoft touts Windows Search as a “zero query” search: click into the search box, and it immediately surfaces a list of the apps, people, and documents you’ve recently or frequently engage with. In the future, Microsoft’s promising features like key phrase suggestion, which tries to understand what you mean, as well as a query history of past searches and suggestions which helps inform which documents and suggestions it surfaces. Search will pull data sources from the Microsoft Graph, which indexes email, calendar, Teams chats, documents, and more.

It all sounds somewhat similar to Delve, a (presumably) little-used Microsoft Office 365 app that served as a dedicated interface for many of the same work-related queries. Now Delve appears to be largely transformed into Windows Search. 

bing search microsoft search Microsoft

An older example of how Microsoft Search will appear on a page, run from inside a corporate environment.

According to Microsoft, Search will be pulled into all Microsoft apps and services, and rolled out worldwide by the end of May. Microsoft also plans to open up search to third-party connectors, too, though those will only roll out in limited private preview, and later this year. 

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments


Brother MFC-L3745CDW Colour Laser Multifunction

Learn more >




Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?