November 11, 2004 12:32 PM PST

Linux seller gunning for search

Linux seller Linspire has embedded search capabilities into its newly upgraded operating system in an effort to make looking for news or products as easy as highlighting a word on a Web page or e-mail.

The company, formerly known as Lindows, introduced the new "hot words" search function on its latest upgrade of operating system software on Oct. 28.

Michael Robertson, Linspire's CEO, says he believes OS searching will have a significant impact on the market.

"I'm confident that it won't be too long before going to will be as unnecessary and old-fashioned as going to Blockbuster for videos, since search will be accessible right from every program on your computer," he said in a letter to Linspire users posted on his Web site.

Robertson believes that by embedding search directly into the operating system, the search experience will become inordinately more convenient and less time-consuming. Instead of cutting and pasting words into the search engine toolbar on Google or Yahoo, users can highlight and click on a word or phrase and immediately do an Internet, shopping or news search.

Another feature uses a thin, green line to auto-underline words people may want to search with. Pausing the mouse over these words brings up the search options without having to click.

"Hot words" are embedded into every Web page and e-mail message on Linspire, and users can fine-tune the searches to best suit their needs.

Interestingly, the "hot words" idea is similar in concept to an ill-fated Microsoft technology called "Smart Tags" originally planned for Windows XP's debut in 2001.

The company chose to remove Smart Tags from Windows XP before its debut. Critics complained that the feature gave Microsoft undue leverage over competitors by tying the Smart Tag links to Microsoft products and Web sites.

Robertson believes Linspire's advancements are just the first step in a widespread trend to embed search technology into operating systems.

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