Autonomy, Mamma.com Join Desktop Search Ranks

Autonomy launches a desktop search add-on to its enterprise search platform, while meta-search player Mamma.com prepares an acquisition of desktop search technology.

Not to be left out of desktop search, two search vendors on Monday leaped into the growing space for managing e-mail, documents and other hard-drive data.

Autonomy Corp. plc introduced a desktop-search application for its IDOL (Intelligent Data Operating Layer) enterprise-search platform, while consumer player Mamma.com Inc. announced plans to acquire desktop-search vendor Copernic Technologies Inc.

Both moves follow a rash of interest in desktop search among the largest Web search engines. Google Inc. has released a beta of a desktop-search application, while Microsoft Corp. and Ask Jeeves Inc. have said they will introduce offerings before the end of the year.

/zimages/5/28571.gifRead more here about search engines pushing into desktop search.

For its product, San Francisco-based Autonomy is targeting a more managed and secured approach for desktop search within the enterprise. It launched IDOL Enterprise Desktop Search, software that can run on Windows or Mac OS X desktops to retrieve documents, e-mails, Web sites, news and multimedia content from a users hard drive as well as from corporate networks and the Web, the company said.

In a statement, Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch called the desktop search application "a fundamental change in the way users find and use information" because it uses contextual information rather than keywords to automatically search for information as users work.

IDOL Enterprise Desktop Search gathers results in the background, alerting users to relevant information. Results are organized in a pop-up menu accessible on the desktop, according to Autonomy, which calls its approach "implicit query."

One key feature is called "Active Folders," which dynamically finds and stores search results related to the information within a folder.

Autonomys approach appears similar to one introduced by search startup Blinkx Inc. Blinkx, a free download focused more on consumers, also returns Web and local search results in a miniature toolbar as users browse the Web or work on documents.

San Francisco-based Blinkx also launched a "Smart Folders" feature, where results automatically populate a Windows folder, as part of an update released earlier this month.

IDOL Enterprise Desktop Search requires Autonomys IDOL enterprise-search server software, a spokesman said. Pricing was not released.

Unlike consumer products, Autonomys desktop search includes extra security features. The application uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption and authenticates users to verify that they have access to specific files and information. An advanced authentication feature also lets administrators disable remote active folders in the event of a stolen laptop, Autonomy said.

In the consumer space, Mamma.com said Thursday that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire Copernic Technologies, which makes a namesake desktop search tool that competes with Googles desktop application. Mamma.com, of Montreal, runs a meta-search engine and provides marketing services to online advertisers.

Mamma.com plans to acquire all of the shares of Copernic for a combination of cash and shares of its stock. Terms were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2005, Mamma.com announced.

"As a result of the combination, Mamma intends to reach both Web-based and desktop-based search users, utilizing Copernics award-winning desktop search product," Guy Faure, president and CEO of Mamma.com, said in a statement.

In October, Boston-based Copernic split off its enterprise search business into a new company called Coveo Solutions Inc. During the spinoff, Coveo updated its enterprise search software to include a version of Copernics desktop search tailored to organizations.

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