July 29, 2004 4:37 PM PDT

Microsoft puts multisearch tool on show

REDMOND, Wash.--Microsoft on Thursday revealed the progress it has made in building search technology when it showed off a tool that can comb both the Internet and a PC's hard drive.

MSN Chief Yusuf Mehdi demonstrated a prototype of the search software to an audience at its annual meeting with financial analysts here. The technology is designed to quickly look through a hard drive, finding all the matches for a word from within documents, e-mails and even e-mail attachments. The version Mehdi presented also returned Web results on the right side of the page.

The demonstration marked the first time that Microsoft has showed off the technology, which Mehdi said would be part of a "service," although he did not offer further details.

Building a search system that looks through typically incompatible files has long been an key goal for Microsoft and a project favored by Chairman Bill Gates.

The PC search technology that Mehdi showed allowed a computer user to search within Microsoft's Outlook e-mail client as well as within Windows folders such as "My Documents."

In an interview, Mehdi said that the technology does not require an upgrade to the Windows operating system, but would require software to be downloaded onto a PC. The search is speedy, Mehdi said, because it builds a continual index of the files on the computer.

Microsoft has been expected to combine Web search with local PC search, but many had anticipated the move would come with Longhorn, the next version of Windows, which currently is due in 2006. Mehdi did not give specifics, but said the local hard-drive search service would come before that launch.

"It will definitely be out before Longhorn," Mehdi said. He added that Longhorn, which includes a new file system, will allow for more powerful searches.

Mehdi said that the company had made a lot of progress in the last few months on the local hard-drive search technology. Two weeks ago, Microsoft acquired Lookout Software, a small company with technology for searching e-mail.

"I'm duly humble about the challenge and incredibly optimistic about what we can get done," Mehdi said of Microsoft's prospects in search, noting that the company had built a full Web crawler in 11 months.

Mehdi also offered a sneak peek at the design of the MSN Music service that is scheduled for release later this year, but did not offer details about the service or say when it would launch.

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Innovation?
The following text from this new story:

**In an interview, Mehdi said that the technology does not require an upgrade to the Windows operating system, but would require software to be downloaded onto a PC. The search is speedy, Mehdi said, because it builds a continual index of the files on the computer.**

clearly describes the Lookout technology that Microsoft just acquired. With the Outlook Lookout plugin/software you can quickly do an indexed search of all the Outlook mail folders along with searhes through My Documents. Seems like another case of Microsoft buying someone else's technology and then "appearing" to claim it as their own. Not much in the way of innovation if you ask me........
Posted by blariz (28 comments )
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Re: Innovation
or steal as the case may be.
Posted by unixrules (21 comments )
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Re: Innovation?
It's called growing through acquisition as opposed to organically, something Google and Yahoo! do very frequently. Google has acquired Picasa, Blogger, Sprinks, and Applied Semantics, among others.

Once you buy a company, you own their intellectual property.

I don't like Microsoft, but if you're going to bash Microsoft, at least get your facts straight. :)

Cheers,
Doug
Posted by dmehus (30 comments )
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Already exists
The tool microsoft is workin on does already exist. It is called 'SERglobalBrain Personal Edition' and can be used to search textual information within file- and outlookitems. The power lies in its ability to search fuzzy and really fast compared to existing solutions. Server versions also seem to exist. For further details see

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ser.com/product_showcase/globalbrain/index.asp" target="_newWindow">http://www.ser.com/product_showcase/globalbrain/index.asp</a>
Posted by (1 comment )
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Microsoft puts multisearch tool on show
I may be wrong and am just a user, but isn't this already offered by Google.com also? They have a little search program that looks at every file in my computer that contains words I type in. Maybe I'm talking apples and oranges?
Posted by OldGuyFromAlaska (3 comments )
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