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Customizing Time-Out Values for Office 2003 Research Services

Office 2003

Angela Wong
Microsoft Corporation

September 2004

Applies to:
    Microsoft Office 2003 Editions
    Microsoft Internet Explorer

Summary: The Microsoft Office 2003 Research feature is configured to search a research service for a limited amount of time and return results even if the service has not completed the search. Some research services take longer to return results than others. Learn how to adjust the time-out value of the Research feature to accommodate the time requirements of different research services so that users are more likely to find the information they want. (8 printed pages)


Searching Research Services
Customize Time-Out Values


The Microsoft Office 2003 Research feature allows users to search public, corporate, or subscription databases without leaving a Microsoft Office 2003 application or Microsoft Internet Explorer. Users can search research services that are included with the Microsoft Office 2003 Editions, for example, Dictionary and Translation, or custom research services developed by third-party service developers.

For various reasons, such as design and server configuration, different research services have different response times. A search that a user initiates in the Research task pane is limited by a default time-out period. When that time-out limit is reached, the search stops, whether it completed or not, and the search results, if any, appear in the Research task pane.

Research service developers and system administrators may want to adjust the default time-out period to accommodate the needs of different research services. Even though users cannot adjust the time-out values through the user interface, system administrators can modify the system registry on a client computer to achieve that for their users. Research service developers can also specify time-out values in their services to optimize the response times of their services.

The rest of this article demonstrates how you can modify the registry to customize time-out values. Note that when you update a research service, registry settings for that service are reset and all previous registry customizations for that service are lost.

CAUTION    Editing the registry incorrectly may severely damage your operating system, requiring you to reinstall it. Microsoft cannot guarantee that problems resulting from editing the registry incorrectly can be resolved. Before editing the registry, back up any valuable data. For the most recent information about using and protecting your computer's registry, see Microsoft Windows Help.

Searching Research Services

The Research task pane allows users to search an entire category of research services, as shown in Figure 1, or a specific research service, as in Figure 2.


Figure 1. Search the entire category of All Reference Books


Figure 2. Search a specific service: the Encarta Dictionary: English (North America) service

Time-out Values

The Research task pane uses different time-out values for searches on categories and searches on specific research services.

GroupTimeout limits a search on a category of research services. It is expressed in milliseconds, and the default value is 60,000 milliseconds, the equivalent of 1 minute. A search on a category returns as soon as: (a) the search on each research service in the category completes, or (b) the time specified by GroupTimeout lapses, whichever occurs earlier.

Timeout limits a search on a specific research service. Its default value is 120,000 milliseconds, which is equivalent to 2 minutes. A search on a specific research service returns as soon as: (a) the search on the research service completes, or (b) the time specified by Timeout lapses, whichever occurs earlier.

Tip   By default, GroupTimeout is shorter than Timeout. When users do a category search, commonly they would want results as soon as the faster services within the category return some results. When doing a search on a specific service, users want results from that particular service and therefore a longer period accommodates services that take longer to return.

Search Results

For a search on a category, the Research task pane displays results that are found within the period specified by GroupTimeout, if there are any. The Research task pane does not display any messages for individual research services that do not return any results in the category search.

For a search on a specific research service, the Research task pane displays results that are found within the period specified by Timeout. If the search returns no results, the Research task pane displays this message: "This service did not respond."

Note   If GroupTimeout or Timeout is set to 0, a search on any category or research service returns no results. The Research task pane displays the message: "No results found. Please search again."

Customizing Time-Out Values

System administrators and research service developers can customize time-out periods depending on the scope of the search by modifying the settings for GroupTimeout and Timeout in the system registry. These registry values reside under the registry subkey:


These values have the type DWORD.

Because research services programmatically use default values for these time-out periods, the entries corresponding to these time-out periods may not appear in the registry. System administrators may need to add entries for these values in the registry when they customize the values for the first time.

The rest of this article describes the process to add and modify a time-out value using the Registry Editor.

Adding a Time-Out Value

  1. Open the Registry Editor by clicking Start, Run, typing regedit, and clicking OK.
  2. In the registry tree, right-click the key My Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Common\Research, point to New and select DWORD Value, as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3. Add the registry entry GroupTimeout

  1. Under Name, type GroupTimeout to replace New Value #1 as in Figure 4.


Figure 4. Name the new registry entry GroupTimeout

  1. When you initially add a registry entry, its value is 0 by default. Follow the steps under "Modify a Time-out Value" below to change its value.

To add Timeout to the registry, repeat the previous steps, naming the new value as Timeout in step 3.

Modifying a Time-Out Value

  1. Open the Registry Editor by clicking Start, Run, typing regedit, and clicking OK.
  2. In the registry tree, expand the key My Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Common\Research\Options as in Figure 5.

    Click here for larger image

    Figure 5. Registry settings specifying time-out periods

  3. On the right pane of the Registry Editor, right-click GroupTimeout and select Modify as in Figure 6.

    Click here for larger image

    Figure 6. Modify the GroupTimeout registry entry

  4. Type a new value for GroupTimeout. For the purpose of this example as shown in Figure 7, to change GroupTimeout to three minutes (which is equivalent to 180,000 milliseconds in decimal), click Decimal, and type 180000 for Value data. Click OK.


Figure 7. Change the data for GroupTimeout.

To modify Timeout in the registry, repeat the above steps, right-clicking Timeout in step 3 and adding a new value for Timeout in step 4.


Customizing time-out values for research services is a simple procedure that system administrators and research service developers can do to optimize response times for searches on the Research task pane.