Microsoft Corp. announced a new version of its desktop search feature meant for use in corporate computer networks, as it tries to keep pace with rivals such as Google Inc.
The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant says the new facet searches for information stored on individual PCs, or among clusters of computers typically found in offices. File sharing and a single starting point for any search are two features of note, according to Microsoft.
Details were released on Tuesday at the IT Forum, a Microsoft-hosted event in Barcelona, Spain.
In the tit-for-tat world of the Internet portal, the recent changes to their business-class search offerings by leading portals Google and now Microsoft are sure to spur rivals America Online, Yahoo, Inc. and others into similar action.
All are battling for a share of the estimated $600 million that corporations now spend annually to improve upon their computer networks search and collaboration capabilities.
Enterprise search falls under the category that number-crunching analysts call "workforce optimization." Analysts at Datamonitor predict $1 billion in sales of such services and gear by 2006.
Microsofts push into desktop search for businesses takes place just a few weeks after competitor Google, Inc., the leading Internet search company, unveiled a version of its own desktop search program thats been fine-tuned for businesses.
Google also says it has plans to soon integrate Google Earth, its satellite photo service into enterprise features that will cost between $20 and $400.
Heather Friedland, product planner for desktop search within Microsoft, said the enterprise version of Windows Desktop Search fulfilled a commitment the company made in May 2005 to deliver such a technology.
What differentiates the enterprise version from the consumer version?
One difference, said Friedland, are group policies that can be set by the IT manager to govern the types of searches allowed by the information workers. For example, the IT manager might designate that intranet searches or SharePoint searches are permissible, but not searches of individuals Outlook inboxes.
Theres also an "integrated search view" that will present search results across users desktops and Outloook in a single, integrated pane.
In the future, the enterprise Windows Desktop Search offering also will be able to search across the data stored in any Windows Live service.
The final product is a free downloadable for registered Windows 2000 and Windows XP users. The one component of the offering that is still in beta is the integrated search view.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include comments from a Microsoft representative.