Ask Jeeves to Launch Desktop Search

The search engine joins its competitors by readying a desktop search beta and is considering future integration with its personal search service on the Web.

On the heels of a series of desktop search releases, Ask Jeeves Inc. is set to launch an application to scour users hard drives for e-mails and files.

Ask Jeeves, of Emeryville, Calif., will release a beta of its desktop-search application late on Wednesday that offers a three-button query box for searching local files, e-mails or the Web. A general release is planned for 2005.

Following in line with Microsofts MSN desktop-search release and product plans from Yahoo Inc., Ask Jeeves will separate local and Web results.

But the company is planning to integrate desktop and Web results later in 2005, most likely by offering desktop results within its recently launched MyJeeves personalized search service on the Web, said Jim Lanzone, Ask Jeeves senior vice president of search properties.

Google Inc., the first major search engine to enter desktop search with a beta release in October, merges desktop and Web results into the same results page through its well-known Web interface.

"Theres confusion when Web results are integrated with personal files," Lanzone said. "Those are kind of apples and oranges."

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read about search vendors diving into desktop search.

The Ask Jeeves Desktop Search user interface will focus on buttons and tabs for narrowing queries and search results. Once users enter a query for a file, e-mail or the Web, they will see all their results in that category but can choose among a series of tabs to narrow results.

For example, they will be able to sort local file results to view only their My Documents folder, images or Office documents, among other categories, Lanzone said. Similarly, a Web search will display results within the desktop search client and includes a tab to view personal results from MyJeeves.

Ask Jeeves built the beta application following its acquisition of desktop search startup Tukaroo Inc. in June.

As for the indexing of users hard drives, Ask Jeeves lets users choose the types of files to be indexed. A basic setup indexes common files types such as Microsoft Office documents, Outlook e-mail, images, music and video. By selecting a more advanced setting, users can also index more arcane files and cached Web-page history, Lanzone said.

Users also can choose whether to perform a quick index files using more processing power or to index more slowly in the background, Lanzone said.

The Ask Jeeves Desktop Search beta does not index e-mail attachments and some other file types supported in products from Google and MSN. Google also indexes instant messaging sessions from AOL Instant Messenger, and MSNs desktop search supports PDFs and a full range of Outlook content such as contacts and calendar items.

Lanzone said Ask Jeeves chose not to include IM sessions because of privacy concerns. The company is working to include e-mail attachment indexing, expanded Outlook support and PDF support when it updates the application next year.

/zimages/5/28571.gifRead more here about security issues surrounding desktop search.

The Ask Jeeves Desktop Search beta will be available as a free 700KB download. It will run on Windows 2000 or XP and supports Microsoft Office 2000 or higher and Microsoft Outlook 2003.

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