I just finished updating Windows Desktop Search (WDS) to version 3 (I had version 2.6) and there is a marked difference in performance. I am also really impressed with the UI of the Windows Search Desk bar. I was hoping this would be free a free floating affair in the style of SlickRun and Google Desktop Search ... no dice.
Another marked improvement is the fact that Outlook 2003 is now completely indexed if you do not like Outlook in the search you can always switch that off. In previous versions only the C:\documents and settings folder was indexed and now you can chose the specific folders to index.
The options to specify which file types to index actually uses a GUI now (hooray!), instead of the previous semi colon separated list that you had to manually add to.
I am not sure when this update happened but I am convinced that I have been struggling along with version 2.x needlessly for too long.