Desktop Search Is the New Search Engine Battlefield
Yesterday, in a teleconference planned for the same day as the Chicago Search Engine Strategies conference, Microsoft announced their new Toolbar Suite, a Desktop Search tool which is loosely based on the Look Out technology purchased by Microsoft last year. After Google, AOL, Copernic and others had capitalized on the absense of a useful Microsoft file searching tool in the Windows Operating System, Microsoft intertwined their new search tool suite with MSN, introducing the tool to both Windows users and fans of the MSN network.
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. Here is a rundown of the latest desktop search devices which have hit the market and made a loud noise.
MSN Desktop Search/Toolbar Suite – Microsoft has finally released a beta of their Desktop Search software. It is integrated with their Browser Toolbar set and is now labeled MSN Toolbar Suite Beta.
The download size is huge compared to Google Desktop Search at 4.8megs and you would need to download another add-on worth 3.78megs just to enable PDF searching. Not exactly a surprise considering it is Microsoft. The suite comes with three separate toolbars. One is installed in Internet Explorer, another in Microsoft Outlook and the last one as a Deskbar. The search results are displayed as expected in Internet Explorer integrated with MSN Search Beta and in first impression looks to be pretty feature rich.
AOL Desktop Search – America Online on last month 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. Apparently AOL’s desktop search solution will be powered by Copernic, which pretty much assures that an agreement is in place between the two companies. This is a boost for the AOL Desktop since Copernic has been in desktop search for years. But with Mamma acquiring Copernic (or wanting to) what does this mean for the AOL/Copernic Desktop?
Ask Jeeves Desktop Search – Ask Jeeves introduced a beta desktop search application today, the Ask Jeeves Desktop Search. Upon installation of the small (750K) application, Ask Jeeves Desktop Search creates an index of the information stored on a person’s computer. This process enables users to search by file name, as well as by file content. The application currently supports a wide range of file types, including Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), simple text files, Microsoft Outlook email messages, and image, music, and video files. Ask Jeeves Desktop Search constantly monitors the computer (with minimal impact on system resources) for new and deleted files and email messages
Google Desktop Search – After months of speculation, Google’s Desktop Search was released 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.
Yahoo x1 Powered Desktop Search – Yahoo! will be releasing their version of the desktop search tool in January. Unlike Google, they have preferred to stay away from the browser to show the results. The interesting bit is that they are not doing it by reinventing the wheel. They are licensing the technology from a startup known as X1 Technologies.
The company has pioneered searching content on the computers and currently sells their software for USD 74.95. They plan to continue charging businesses for their products while Yahoo! would be giving away their version to be called Yahoo! Desktop Search free. X1 Technologies claims their application can search through 225 types of file formats. This is a huge advantage Yahoo! could have over Google considering Google Desktop Search currently has limited capabilities with it comes to file formats.
Toolbar Alternative – Speaking of toolbars, for those site owners who do not have the technology to develop their own toolbars, Effective Brand is offering its customized toolbar development solution for any site owner or web user who wants to make their own toolbar with custom search functionality and RSS aggregation.