Platform and Browser Restrictions
Google has taken an unsurprising amount of flack over its limited platform support for Google Desktop Search. GDS help files and FAQs have many apologies for their limited support for applications and platforms. They promise they are considering support for others: an emphatic "maybe." GDS only works on Windows XP and Windows 2000 with Service Pack 3 or higher. This is partly because it works as a Windows service and partly because Google only wants to use recent, supported versions of the OS. It only searches Web caches of Internet Explorer from IE5 or greater (although no recent copy of Windows 2000 or Windows XP would use anything less than IE6). It only searches e-mails from Outlook 2000, 2002 and 2003; or Outlook Express 5 or greater. It searches files in several standard formats such as TXT and HTML, but also Microsoft Office formats such as .DOC, .XLS and .PPT for Office 2000 or greater. It also says it searches chats from AOL 7+ and AOL Instant Messenger 5+, but I didnt test this, and the utility of it escapes me at first glance.Google already supports many of the same Microsoft formats on Web searches (see my column on privacy implications of this feature). Its an interesting mix of file formats that it supports using the filetype operator, and one would think the software might be the basis for file support in GDS, but not necessarily. Software on google.com operates under resource constraints very different from those of a service running on the average desktop. It may be that supporting all of these formats isnt worth the cost in terms of memory. And none of the open-source formats are up there. But Google does say, "We intend to add new file, e-mail and chat formats and browsers as Google Desktop Search evolves, and when new formats are created and used." You can suggest new ones, too. Next page: Conclusions on criticisms.
So, you may notice the absence of Mozilla cache support, OpenOffice formats and other things such as Linux support. I hope were all adult enough to recognize the fact that if one is prioritizing formats to support, IE and MS Office obviously are more important than Mozilla and OpenOffice. Dont count on expansion to the more obscure formats or other operating systems anytime soon.