In Windows 8, when you performed a search, the default search location would be ‘Apps’ – even if there were no results in Apps, and there were results in Settings, the results page would display no results. Of course you would need to manually select ‘Settings’ or ‘Files’ as the search location to display results from those areas.
In Windows 8.1 they’ve changed the default search location to be ‘Everything’, which means whether you’re searching for an App or a Setting, the results will all display in one place as you start typing.
Just above the search box, you will notice the ‘Everywhere’ filter, which when clicked allows you to change the results to only ‘Settings’ or only ‘Files’. Notably the ‘Apps’ filter has been removed from this list. You will also be able to select results from 2 new locations: Web Images, and Web Videos; which displays results from Bing.
When searching for an app, for example ‘Mail’ the first result will be the Mail app, and will be highlighted by default. If you press enter after typing the search term, the Mail app will be launched straight away. However if you search for something like a Control Panel setting, for example ‘Add or remove programs’ the first result will not be highlighted, and so pressing enter opens up a new search results app instead of opening our first result, even though there was only 1 result…
Also important to note is that if you press the search icon instead of hitting enter (like most touch users would do I imagine) it will open this search app no matter what – even if the first result is highlighted by default.
While the search results app looks and feels like a windows 8.1 modern app, it doesn’t actually show up in the apps list, and when I search for search it returns no results, so I don’t think we can pin the search app to our start screen just yet; maybe they will change this in the full 8.1 release.