I like the new Windows Vista/7 start menu, particularly the find as you type search functionality. It’s a big improvement from Windows XP’s. If you want to make the start menu’s search bar even more functional, take a look at Start++.
Start++ is an enhancement for the Start Menu in Windows Vista and 7, that allows you to search on popular Internet search engines and websites, launch applications and run special commands right from the search box.
What you can do with Start++
– Search on Google
– Search on Wikipedia
– Check weather
– Launch program with Administrator privileges
– Play any media files by simply typing “play” followed by the filename or search term. For example, typing "play radiohead" will find all music that matches the query "radiohead", compile the results into a .M3U file, and launch it in Windows Media Player.
– View images by typing “pic” followed by the search term. In this particular example, see how I searched for “beach” and the result shows an actual beach even though the term doesn’t appear in the filename. The word beach happened to be on the image’s EXIF description. Smart!
Start++ has more than two dozen downloadable plug-ins that will add many more commands to the program like calling on Skype by username or phone number, search torrent, search Microsoft download center and KB database, Twitter, Google Maps and plenty more.
The stable version of Start++ works with only Windows Vista. For Windows 7, the developers have made available a beta build, which is working fine for me but you might run into some unexpected bugs. Start++ for Windows 7 also looks different from the one for Windows Vista. The screenshots shown above are from Windows 7. The one below shows how Start++ appears on Windows Vista.