More Desktop Search

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-10-14 Print this article Print

Googles launch comes amid growing interest in desktop search among major Web search engines and companies. This week, details began leaking about AOLs intentions to include desktop search technology in its forthcoming AOL Browser. Microsoft Corp.s MSN division, which acquired desktop-search startup Lookout Software LCC earlier this year, has said it plans to launch its own desktop search product later this year. Ask Jeeves Inc. also bought a desktop-search company and is working on a product for this year.
A slew of vendors focus more exclusively on desktop search, such as X1 Technologies Inc., Copernic Technologies Inc. and ISYS Search Software Inc., and many were quick to point out Thursday that their applications index a broader array of files and provide greater functionality to refine results.
To Gary Stein, a senior analyst at Darien, Conn.-based Jupiter Research, Googles beta release has raised the bar for its search competitors. He was particularly struck by the way Web and desktop results are integrated together and the speed with which the desktop application indexes files. "Theyre calling it a desktop application, but its really not," Stein said "This is a fairly major leap [because] its really the integration of local and network data resources all under one interface." Mayer said about a dozen Google researcher and engineers, led by senior researcher Steve Lawrence, worked over the past year to create Google Desktop. The application is a 400 KB download and typically can index a users hard drive within five to six hours. It then conducts real-time indexing and includes technology to adjust indexing as a user performs processing-intensive functions to avoid interfering with other work, Mayer said. One technical hurdle it has yet to overcome is being able to include e-mail messages from Googles Gmail service in the index. Click here to read more about Gmail. Google Desktop Search, however, can return results from other Web-based e-mail services, such as Yahoo Mail and MSN Hotmail, as long as a user has viewed a message through IE, Mayer said. But it cannot search Gmail because the e-mail application is so heavily based on JavaScript. Google is working to fix the incompatibility in the desktop search products next release, Mayer said. As far as privacy, Googles desktop application lets users choose which information to include in the index, and they can later delete specific files, e-mails, chats and Web sites from searches, Mayer said. Google Desktop Search is available as a free download for Windows XP and Windows 2000 Service Pack 3. Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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