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Journal salvorHardin's Journal: Google Desktop Search - Privacy, Microsoft and The Future

There's been a few people wondering about the privacy implications of having the new Google Desktop Search tool installed on their machines - and this is my reply to one in my hosting provider's forums:

According to Google's privacy policy, the desktop search only collects "a limited amount of non-personal information... This includes summary information, such as the number of searches you do and the time it takes for you to see your results, and application reports we'll use to make the program better".

My main concern (other than privacy) is resource usage. I usually get a huuuge performance hit on XP by getting rid of the indexer service, and the old MS Office FindFast used to be terrible on NT4 for corrupting its own indexes, and thus preventing any Office application from launching.

I think this may be another small step for Google's attempts to become an essential part of every desktop PC - and to reaffirm their #1 position in the search tools arena, before the likes of Microsoft/MSN manage to get in there and possibly push Google into oblivion:

Bill Gates on USA Today
You will see amazing search in (the next version of Windows called) Longhorn. In fact, even before that comes out -- which we expect in 2006 -- we'll have MSN offerings that will provide very rich search capabilities. Search is a big area for us. We've got smart competitors, Google and Yahoo, but we see ways that we can take search way beyond what we or they have done to date.

-taken from

Google need to get people used to using their search service from the desktop, not just the browser, before 'Search the Internet with MSN' becomes a key part of Windows. MSN, with Hotmail/Windows/IE/MSN-Search/Outlook/Exchange/ActiveDir could possibly come up with an 'all-in-one' search tool (eg - search all your docs, emails, messenger conversations, the web and your local active directory for anything you like), and this presumably is the way the 'search industry' is set to go.

MS's advantage is that they have their own browser/OS/mail client with wide deployment, and their messenger app and webmail app are also both very widely used. Looking toward the future, rights management services will likely mean that Microsoft is the only player in a position to index RMS'd content.

In Google's corner is the fact that people still trust them more than Microsoft (at least for the moment). Also - they have Google Groups (aka the old Déja News usenet archive), an established client base for selling marketing-purpose data and web ad space, plus - there's also the speculation that Google will be coming up with their own browser. Oh, and they have a base on the moon.

I don't think Google are trying deliberately to corner any markets, they're just trying to build themselves a sufficiently strong position from which to face the wrath of Redmond when the time comes.

Ultimately internet searches will be tied in with your company's active directory-type services, your corporate email and discussion boards, shared files, intranet and desktop PC. You'll do a search for "Project FooBar" and get hits back from Usenet discussions, corporate intranet pages, documents stored on a fileserver somehwere or descriptions of people in LDAP/ActiveDir directories, all your IM conversations and perhaps even 'offline' results pointing to removable storage things - so you search for 'Corporate Finance Plan 2005' and it comes back and tells you to plug your USB keyfob drive in. This, I'm guessing, is supposed to be the 'killer app', and currently only M$ are in a position to deliver it. Naturally, their search product won't support other product's data such as Lotus Domino mailboxes, AIM conversations, Quark Xpress documents, etc... so I guess we'll all just have to switch to using Exchange Server, MSN Messenger and MS Publisher.

This is why I don't mind Google launching all of these new services, as I'd rather see two big players splitting the market, than one hegemon taking 90% of the share.

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Google Desktop Search - Privacy, Microsoft and The Future

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