Desktop Search from AOL, Google & Others
Search engines, portals and browser systems are trying to get off of the Internet and your desktop and into your hard drives, email, and private files. By taking advantage of a basically lame Windows Search tool used by Microsoft since the dawn of MS Windows, huge public monsters like AOL and Google as well as smaller software developers are introducing desktop and email search which is filling the demands of Windows users. Here is a rundown of the latest desktop search devices which have hit the market and made a loud noise.
AOL Desktop Search
America Online on Thursday confirmed that it is testing a new search engine that scans for files on a PC’s hard drive, mirroring a similar product unveiled this week by Google. AOL’s desktop search was not developed in-house but is powered by a third-party’s technology, according to a source familiar with the plans. While the source would not reveal AOL’s desktop search partner, this person said it was not Google. The desktop search tool is currently being offered as a feature within a test version of a standalone Web browser that AOL is developing, the source said.
AOL spokeswoman Anne Bentley confirmed that the desktop search tool is being tested alongside the AOL Browser but declined to elaborate further. She said the AOL Browser will launch as early as November. Separately, the company on Thursday unveiled a redesign of AOL.com. As previously reported, the move highlights AOL’s latest attempt to create a popular Web portal. AOL’s desktop search engine will take on Google, Microsoft and other rivals looking to expand the success of Web search into new arenas. The move could be a longer reach for AOL, which has so far contributed little to develop is own search technology.
Google Desktop Search
After months of speculation, Google’s Desktop Search was released yesterday to a crowd of pleased Google users. Google Desktop comes as a 450 KB download file and installs locally on the system. It places a system tray icon, which runs consecutively in the background indexing files on the system. The background-running crawlers monitor the files and internet/chat sessions and keep the index up-to-date by indexing the system when the system is not busy. The processes were eating up quiet some system memory on my personal test system at around 15 megs, but then with the current processing powers and system memory… Most users out there will not find it to be much. Google itself recommend at least 128 MB RAM and a 400 MHz+ system processor. So, if you have a decent computer, running Google Desktop background client won’t tax your system much. Most of the crawling is done when the system is idle.
Google Desktop Search currently has limited application and format support. It searches for mails from MS Outlook and Outlook Express, Chat Sessions from AOL Instant Messenger, Internet Explorer browsed webpages, Text files and Office files like Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
More on Google Desktop Search
Lookout works on a fairly simple concept – make a database of all the content regularly and then search in that instead of searching in the entire set of files. This is how Indexing services in Windows XP (and some of the older versions of WinOS works), and this is how Lookout works. Microsoft recently bought this company for their neat little utility that Microsoft either failed to develop or conceive on its own so they did the next best (and pretty much their habit) thing… they bought the company. So now lookout technology seems to be something Microsoft would be incorporating into the next versions of MS Outlook. Till then, we are stuck with manually installing this funky utility in our already cluttered MS Outlook.
The software is nifty. Small download footprint and works well. You install it and then restart the Outlook application. It comes as a fresh toolbar on the outlook window itself. First usage of application leads to the development of the database. The application looks out for all the mails stored in the application with incredible speed. It made a database of a test installation with huge amount of imported mails (10k mails of all sizes) in just 4 minutes flat. This is where all the magic lies. It refreshes the database at a manually defined interval and gives out instant results. The user has the power to set the times of the refreshes of the databases (both full and incremental) and can also restrict the time periods when the database updations can be done. So, well… you can set your outlook to re-index your mails when you are away lunching and keep your searches up to date. It also has the option to go through certain types of attachments and show them in related search results!
Download Lookout Search
The dtSearch product is a simple desktop/PC search tool which can instantly search gigabytes of text across a desktop, network, Internet or Intranet site. dtSearch products also serve as tools for publishing, with instant text searching, large document collections to Web sites or CD/DVDs. It’s a pretty powerful search tool and even converts file types such as word processor, database, spreadsheet, email, ZIP, Unicode, etc.into HTML for display with highlighted hits.
More on dtSearch
Copernic has used the experience gained from over 30 million downloads of its Windows-based Web search software to develop CDS, a desktop search product that users are saying is far superior to anything on the market. Copernic and its fans may feel that Google, AOL, and Microsoft are stepping onto its turf, and not vice versa.
Copernic Desktop Search brings the power of a sophisticated, yet easy-to-use search engine right to your PC and allows you to instantly search files, e-mails, and e-mail attachments stored anywhere on your PC hard drive. Using a streamlined, intuitive user interface, CDS executes sub-second searching of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, Acrobat PDF’s, all popular music, picture and video formats, contacts, browser history, and favorites. CDS features a seamlessly integrated pre-viewer that instantly provides you with a view of the file or email you’re looking for. The pre-viewer highlights all search terms and automatically scrolls to the first use of these terms in a document, eliminating the frustration of having to sort through endless text to pinpoint the words you are searching for.
“Google understands search. Microsoft understands software. Copernic understands both [NICE QUOTE], and has eight years of experience in building extremely powerful yet incredibly easy-to-use search software,” said David M. Burns, CEO of Copernic. “Desktop search can be complex, but we took the time to analyze the trade-offs and get it right. We’ve created a clean, friendly, well- tested product that won’t intimidate or confuse new users, and that doesn’t contain extraneous bells and whistles. By focusing on the core search experience, Copernic has produced a product, CDS, that will quickly become the desktop search standard against which all others are judged.”
More on Copernic
Bob Rosenschein and his team are online with the beta release of a new Gurunet client (ver. 5.2, Windows only). Their useful GuruNet answer/reference tool now includes a desktop search app. We haven’t has a chance to try it out yet (we will) but we thought you would like to know. More later on this one. GuruNet is an “answer” or ready reference resource that’s available via a client (a MAC client is also available) or directly over the web. It costs $30/year. You can give it a go with their 14 day free trial.
More on GuruNet from Gary Price at Resource Shelf
Desktop Search may start to be a dime a dozen after too long, but with the big dogs of Google, AOL, and perhaps even Yahoo pointing in the direction of the PC, we’re bound to see some nice surprises around the corner in Desktop Search.