May 16, 2005 7:17 AM PDT

Microsoft ups ante in desktop search

Microsoft has released a final version of its desktop-search software as it tries to enhance its presence in the burgeoning market staked out by rivals Yahoo and Google.

Microsoft, which is laboring to catch up in Web search, has taken advantage of its software background to create an Internet application for finding documents on the hard drive. The MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search, released Monday, is a free download that searches over e-mail, Word documents, PDFs and Web pages, among other file types.

After five months of testing the software and 1 million downloads, the company has unveiled an update with several added improvements. Those include capabilities to preview desktop search results in a windowpane, which is characteristic of Microsoft Outlook.

"Fast search is great, but people want to take better action on search results without having to open up a specific file," said Dane Glasgow, product manager for MSN Search.

Microsoft is vying for new credibility in the multibillion-dollar Web search market dominated by Google and Yahoo--and central to its campaign is the desktop. With its Longhorn launch slated for next year, Microsoft is developing enhanced search software that combines navigation for Web and desktop files straight from the operating system. The toolbar is a step toward that goal.

Still, Google and Yahoo are protecting their turf with desktop-search software of their own. Google recently took the wraps off its search tool after a five-month test phase. Yahoo introduced its service earlier this year in partnership with X1 Technologies; the company is still testing the software.

All of the rivals are counting on desktop software to boost loyalty among their visitors and, in turn, increase their advertising revenue from sponsored search listings.

To address some privacy concerns with desktop search tools, Microsoft updated the software to let people control which files the software indexes and how often. In addition, the company is allowing developers to create plug-ins for the toolbar so that it will search other file types not already included in indexing.

In the coming months, Microsoft's MSN will also add a "tabbed browsing" feature. It plans to introduce a corporate version of the software sometime later this year.

25 comments

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Longshot won't catch Spotlight
Spotlight if you don't know is part of Mac OS X. It isn't google so
that has microslop under the gun. It's Apple.
Posted by oo7curtis (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I second that emotion...
But, fortunately for Apple, they are PC based and instead of
creating 'add-on' features for their OS like M$, they build them
directly into it.
I'm still trying to comprehend the concept of M$ charging for
security updates on an OS that if they did it right the first time
wouldn't need so much third party security!!
Posted by sevanthson (18 comments )
Link Flag
Wussifo ?
What's it for ?

I've read the story 3 times & still don't get what the need is, for this. It does NOT address any need, that I have. I have about 400Gb of HD. But perhaps I have a better knowledge of what's on my HD's & where - I don't see me needing any more search capability.

I'm just glad they aren't talking about adding this to the OS - because every time you add something to the OS, you get greater overhead & more security risks - regardless of whether you really want the feature. That has been M$'s problem for the last few years - adding redundant features to the OS & weakening it.

It's pretty academic anyway - seeing either "MSN" or "Toolbar" in the snappy title "MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search" would stop me from downloading at all.
Posted by (409 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is useful if it is fast.
I've been using Spotlight, Apple's search engine, for a week or
two and have found it can increase productivity if used properly.
Using a key command, I can activate the search feature very
quickly (at least on my system 1.5 ghz G4). The faster I type in a
name the faster I can access files and applications. I know where
everything is on my computer, but they are two or three clicks
away. After you add the time it takes to drag your mouse across
the screen with finding the file in a folder it becomes obvious
that a search feature is faster. Of course the search engine has
to be efficient. With Spotlight I can search my 200 gb + of used
space often in less than a second have the file I need out of tens
of thousands of files. Without touching the mouse I can find the
application or file I need fast and easy.

I have noticed no speed difference in my system since getting
Spotlight (it came with many other programs in Apples newest
OS), nor have I had any significant problems with any program.

Lates
Posted by notagumshoe (44 comments )
Link Flag
Missing the point..
See you all are comparing it to other OS's and engines.. its real purpose is to streamline my Windows PC finding the viruses. I should now have no trouble quickly finding and installing all that wonderful malicious code.. whether it is on my hard drive.. or the internet..

Thanks again Microsoft. I was worried that since my switch to FireFox i was missing some important things.. but this should cover it.. shall we make it a required update?
Posted by (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh please F off!
Ive had it with Micosoft copying apple and other Software
companies and places like Cnet kissing their A$$ yes we all
understand that they adverrtise a lolt which means big dollars
for Cnet but still does it have to be this obvious? And to all
those patchers out there that are going to lay claim that
Microsoft announced it first and apple ripped them off... just
dont. I mean do the math. Some how apple was able to take an
idea and write the code for it to run seamlessly in their new OS
in just a few months where as Microsoft still cant get it right in
over a few years? I dont think so. Especially when apple has
been doing seraches just like this since early versions of
Sherlock and iTunes. It had just never been incorporated into
the Os so elegantly. People always talk about drinking the
koolaid over at apple but I think its the windows drones that
refuse to see anything not created in redmond that have been
sipping from them glass.
Posted by dick-richie (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
sorry for the type-o's
I was all worked up and didnt even bother to spell check.
Posted by dick-richie (6 comments )
Link Flag
Barking up the wrong tree
A fully indexed file system has been Bill's dream for a long time (10+ years). The last thing from them that I liked was the Apple II. At least it was practical. I am still waiting for something else original and useful to come out of Apple.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
Apple vs Microsoft vs Linux vs etc...
This really has become a stoopud (and yes I spelled it wrong) debate.

Every OS has something that it does well and something that needs improvements. They all copy things from others around them. They all want to dominate the market. They all add crap that nobody needs. And they all have flaws, some critical and some not.

I don't like Microsoft. SP2 is just another example of not thinking. Most reviews I have read about 'Tiger' says it's really cool, but more like beta software released a little early. Linux still requires to much from the average computer user.

The point is that they all have problems in different areas. However, outside of inflamming other poster, what is the point of these arguments. Nobody proves anything to the other and facts are usually just inflated opinions.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
But I have made the same point before and I still find myself arguing the same "facts". Just proves that I am stoopud.
Posted by Andrew J Glina (1673 comments )
Link Flag
 

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