Damon Cortesi's blog

Musings of an entrepreneur.

A Tale of Two Desktop Searches

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Google has a Desktop Search tool and Microsoft recently acquired a Desktop Search tool. Both search files. Both search email. However, Google’s is integrated into the browser and Microsoft’s is integrated into an email client. There are two downfalls to the latter approach

  1. That email client is Microsoft Outlook, which is not a free application. This could severely limit the desktop search tools acceptance. Google’s solution uses a free client and it is application-independent to boot! Google brought web services to the desktop! (I’ve always had a problem with web services, in that you have to be connected to the web to use them…I frequently work offline)
  2. The majority of my time on the computer is spent in my browser, not in my email client. This convenience factor is important in the acceptance of an application. Further, I execute numerous searches a day and almost always have a Google query window/tab open - that makes it all the easier to execute the search across my desktop.
While it may be common sense, Google has made a smart move by integrating its desktop search tool into the browser. Even though I almost always have both open, I am usually more active in my browser and it is more natural to use that interface for searching. In my mind, I usually only go into my email client when I need to read or respond to email. Other than that, it sits in the background. This, Microsoft, is why I have not installed Lookout and find it more convenient to use my browser to search my email. This also means that I’m not going to want to open another application to search my desktop unless it is technically superior to my current solution. This is also why I chose to install Google Desktop - I was frustrated with not being able to search word and excel files, and I have an enormous amount of knowledge (not all my own ;)) stored in those and Adobe pdf files. Despite some potential security concerns, thank you Google for adding some convenience to my local search. Microsoft (and others…Scoble ponders whether Yahoo is up to something - wonder what their interface coughbrowsercough would be), you have some work to do.

One note: Lookout probably won’t be the end product as can be assumed by some rumors floating around about MSN’s desktop search. Even if the new solution is a toolbar, it’s still limited to Microsoft products…not good enough! Why? I don’t use Windows Explorer (too limited, thank you Servant Salamander), and I don’t want a deskbar on my already limited laptop’s screen real estate. A tray icon might work, but I already have enough of those. From the Neowin article, Microsoft sounds like they might be taking the right direction with respect to context-based searches from as many places as possible.

OK, I’m done for now.