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Microsoft's Upcoming Desktop Search Tool 293

Back in July, Microsoft purchased a company called Lookout who made a tool that allowed users of Outlook 2000+ to search through their email at greater speed and accuracy to the standard Outlook search tool. Since Microsoft acquired Lookout, the MSN team have been steadily working on Desktop Search and web search technologies. Google announced their own Desktop Search technology recently; the tool is fast but is limited in capabilities.The MSN Toolbar Suite integrates directly throughout the OS and varies according to where you're searching from. For example, if you're searching from within Windows Explorer you will search on your PC, in IE on the web and in Outlook the toolbar searches within Outlook. The bottom line : like the new online search, Microsoft have made a very good effort to get back in the game.
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Microsoft's Upcoming Desktop Search Tool

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  • Hmm... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Primotech ( 731340 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:14PM (#10813349) Homepage
    ...I think I'm beginning to figure out Microsoft's plans to dethrone Google.
  • by JorDan Clock ( 664877 ) <jordanclock@gmail.com> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:15PM (#10813354)
    The MSN Toolbar Suite integrates directly throughout the OS...

    Didn't Internet Explorer teach them that integrating something that connects to the web, like this, into the OS is bad? I'm just waiting for a security hole to pop up and leave even more reason to bash Windows security.

    Well, atleast this is optional, unlike IE.
  • So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chrisgeleven ( 514645 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:15PM (#10813357) Homepage
    At least Google has announced that it is going to make the effort to get its desktop search to support Firefox, Thunderbird, and maybe other third-party products.

    I would be very surprised if Microsoft makes this work with anything other then their products.
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:18PM (#10813376)

    $ grep -R $TARGET /
  • by JessLeah ( 625838 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:18PM (#10813377)
    I mean, lots of people jokingly refer to "Outlook" as "LookOut" (i.e. for viruses/etc.)? There is actually a company/product called "Lookout" for Outlook?

    Also-- to the people who are pointing out (and/or will point out) that this sounds like Apple's "Spotlight" tech... I personally loathe Microsoft, but I DO recall them speaking about making the entire filesystem one big relational database (and I recall the mixed reactions among the /. crowd)... Why would they make the filesystem a database if it weren't to allow searching the whole system in some organized manner? And MS was talking about this stuff LONG before I ever heard of Spotlight... Maybe for once (well, excepting pre-emptive multitasking or true multi-user systems, which Apple was talking about for far too long until Jobs kicked their butts and spurred the creation of OS X at long last) MS got to something before Apple?

    Of course, this being Microsoft, they probably took the idea from someone else first ;)
  • The Bottom Line (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bersl2 ( 689221 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:18PM (#10813382) Journal
    Like the new online search, Microsoft have made a very good effort to get back in the game.

    By buying a company. How like them.
  • Portal wars again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deal-a-Neil ( 166508 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:20PM (#10813391) Homepage Journal
    Remember back in the dotcom hayday, everyone and their brother was rushing out to make a new portal? You know, the all-in-one start page for the browser -- stock quotes, weather, sports scores, yadda-yadda. I think it was an attempt to clone the (then) success of AOL. Search engine firms became media companies. Now, these media companies are trying to get back into the search engine fray.

    Why? Because the ad dollars that were once banner impressions from billions of page impressions, are now far cheaper than they were back then (revenues are down from them), and now pay-per-click revenues are super-duper high. Remember, this isn't about making software for the greater good of man, these companies are in it to win it.

    So anyway, here we are again. Searching your desktop. Web based mail. Yesterday's AOL is today's Google. Personally, a lot of these tools are overhyped, in my opinion. I really hope that these companies have more forward looking people, instead of just sideways looking (i.e. at competition). Because when contextual text-based ads start losing their value, it'll just happen all over again, and we may be talking about the search engine wars the same way we look back at the portal wars.
  • Re:hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nuskrad ( 740518 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:20PM (#10813396)
    if it doesnt include spyware, they are one step ahead of Google in that department

    What google includes is hardly spyware, in the google toolbar you have an option not to install it. Microsoft software sends useage statistics and such back, and some software usage is reported without warning or permission, to a certification system.

    Google is quite open and honest with what it includes in it's software, less so than Microsoft can be.

  • by Hiigara ( 649950 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:21PM (#10813405)
    Sure they are still a monopoly but competition is competition. The only way Microsoft can really dethrone google is if they come out with a better internet search engine. If we get a improved system and outlook search, all the better. I really hope that this gives Linux the kick in the pants it needs for someone to come up with better system search solutions. Find is absolutely terrible in my humble opinion, especially it's tendency to freeze up when you stop a search. Lack of metadata search makes baby Linus cry. Bring me browser wars! Bring me os wars! Bring me search wars! These are the only kind of conflicts in which the consumer benefits, so we might as well encourage them!
  • by caseydk ( 203763 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:23PM (#10813421) Homepage Journal

    Good call.

    I can't wait until some compromise comes along and then uses this search tool to *make sure* it finds the right files to send to 3rd parties...
  • by bergeron76 ( 176351 ) * on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:24PM (#10813424)
    It sounds like MSFT are on the defensive, rather than the offensive.

    Although now that I think about it, they never really innovated anyway - so I guess they were never truly on the offensive.
  • by bogie ( 31020 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:24PM (#10813427) Journal
    ...by buying other companies. Microsoft talks a lot about "their" innovations yet if you look at who they bought over the last 10 years its obvious that almost everything they put out is someone else's product.

    btw before you think I'm just some MS hater I guess I should state I'm not against the practice nor Microsoft's products in general. If the end result is a good product then who cares how it was made. Just wanted to point out that its a bit ironic that people expect brand new innovative products from the ground up from OSS yet don't give a single thought to the fact that almost everything MS puts out wasn't developed in-house at first and they rely almost soley on outsiders for many of their innovations and ideas.
  • by chiphart ( 791140 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:26PM (#10813431) Homepage
    With the OS, Outlook, and searching integrated, I forsee entire personal mailboxes being accidentally searchable by the rest of the world. The best part will be that's it'll the default configuration.
  • by lintux ( 125434 ) <`ten.tsaag.remliw' `ta' `todhsals'> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:26PM (#10813432) Homepage
    I'm just proving your point that they didn't invent anything really useful. Besides Clippy, they also gave us Comic Sans MS, the terrible font that still shows up everywhere because some people think it's cool. :-(
  • by Cid Highwind ( 9258 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:26PM (#10813436) Homepage
    I think they learned a lot from bundling internet explorer. They learned that if they tie some specialty app into the OS, bundle it with every Microsoft product, and require people to use it to get MS proprietary content, they can go from a niche player to 95% market share in a couple of years. That tactic worked for IE, worked for Outlook Express, worked for Windows Media Player, it's starting to work for MSN messenger, and it'll probably work for their new search tool, too.
  • I, for one... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vicsun ( 812730 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:26PM (#10813437)
    cheer microsoft on their bold attempt, as frankly Google Desktop Search blows. Before I get modded -1, troll, let me say I am a big fan of google. I'm just unhappy with google's take on what a desktop search should be.
    Let me count the ways in which GDS annoys me:

    0. Lack of support for programs I use (Firefox support? Pretty please?)

    1. When a a folder has the same name as my search term, google search will display *all* files within that folder. For example if I search for 'doom 3' it won't just list the files called 'doom 3' it will list *all* the files in the doom 3 folder. It would be much more useful if it would only display the folder once as a separate search result, and then only display files called 'doom 3'

    2. Inability to only search for filenames *only* - sometimes, or actually most of the time, I want to find a specific file. I know I have created important.doc but when I search for 'important' I get a plethora of results featuring different documents / text files which have the word 'important' within them. Windows' search has done this nicely by giving me the ability to search for a 'all or a part of the filename' and for 'a word or a phrase within the file'. I also have the option to 'look in' which brings me to my next point

    3. Inability to search within a folder - because sometimes it is extremely useful to look for *.mp3 in my very disorganized 'thereShouldBeNoMusicHere' folder. Or to look for anything at all in a drive different than C...

    4. Wildcard searches - oftentimes I just can't remember how I've saved the file. Was my presentation called group4project.ppt or group4.ppt or G4.ppt? A simple search of *4*.ppt should find the file, where * is a wildcard. Currently I can't do that.

    5. No automatic unindexing. I just moved 3000 files from my desktop to another folder. Now whenever I search for any of those files I get two results, one of them pointing to a non-existing location. There's no way in hell I'm removing 3000 files from the index manually, ten at a time.

    The generic search that comes with Windows does a much better job, IMHO. I hope they improve on GDS in the future, because I'd like to googlize my computer some more.
  • by banuk ( 148382 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:28PM (#10813452)
    It probably won't be optional in Longhorn, which of course will delay that even further my bet is July 2010
  • Re:hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lintux ( 125434 ) <`ten.tsaag.remliw' `ta' `todhsals'> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:29PM (#10813457) Homepage
    Just wait until Microsoft integrates MSN search support in IE. When the user tries to open a non-existent site, type a non-URL in the address bar or do something else stupid, automatically convert it to some nifty MSN search query. Ignorant people who don't know what a search engine or Google is will love it.

    Just it's pretty hard to explain people who don't know what a web browser is why they should use Mozilla FireFox or any other sane browser.
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:31PM (#10813471) Homepage
    Didn't Internet Explorer teach them that integrating something that connects to the web, like this, into the OS is bad?

    Well, their single major competitor of the time is dead, many people are unaware web browsers other than Internet Explorer exist, and there were no negative side-effects of any sort for Microsoft other than an utterly insignificant "settlement" fee with the Bush administration. It seems to me IE would have taught Microsoft that integrating something that connects to the web into the OS is.. well.. good.

    I'm just waiting for a security hole to pop up and leave even more reason to bash Windows security.

    Is this what you were referring to as far as why this would be "bad"? Because I don't see this as a bad thing for Microsoft. The security disaster that has been Microsoft's products in the last few years has yet to produce any significant negative repercussions I can see for Microsoft. Further security disasters in Microsoft products likely will turn out just the same; bad for Microsoft's customers, neither good nor bad for Microsoft.

    Well, atleast this is optional, unlike IE.

    How long will that last, I wonder?
  • i don't get it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thepoch ( 698396 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:43PM (#10813548)
    i don't get it. what's up with search being the "holy grail" of computing? kindly explain this to me. is everyone really this disorganized that everyone has to search for their own files now?

    if everyone really wants to be able to search their stuff, it might be better to do away with files for documents completely. why not just make a real database (not fs database like winfs or whatever other bullshit they were thinking), where all documents, presentations, spreadsheets, are inputted into a real sql database as xml? maybe allow each application to create their own "database" with their own "table" with their own specific fields. then allow all these to be searchable by whatever search engine can be integrated with whatever desktop interface you may have. let's do away with files completely if people just keep on losing them, and have to search for them.

    actually from reading what i just typed, it sounds like how a palm works. each app has their own searchable resource files. i don't really know how that will work with the stuff people type though. and images are another issue. most of the time, i find organizing pictures the toughest. documents are easy to categorize, but pictures, that's really a tough one.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:47PM (#10813567)
    Google didn't invent desktop search (look at ON Location) any more than they invented internet search (Lycos, of course).
  • by jdkane ( 588293 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:48PM (#10813848)
    This is something I don't fully understand: Microsoft buys a company named Lookout because it creates a software tool that searches through MS Outlook (2000+) better than Microsoft currently does with the built-in tool. Fair enough. However MS created the source code for Outlook and the Lookout company did not have access to it. Doesn't it stand to reason that MS should just go back, dust off the source code and improve it almost feature-for-feature (or even better) with the competing product rather than buying that entire company?

    I understand if licensing or patents are involved because then MS would want to own them now instead of geting into trouble later. (Indeed, one of the story links indicate patents are involved: It seems that Lookout already has some patents on desktop search technology. Microsoft's work was independetly developed. They are just protecting their back from patent litigations.)

    Also, if MS buys the company then there's less similar competition in the future (the small company already proved it could out-Microsoft Microsoft).

    In these cases it wouldn't be about the technology at all.

  • by lee7guy ( 659916 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @03:53PM (#10814137)
    I think that by "Can anyone think of something useful they developed first in the past five years?" he meant innovation. Ideas developed from scratch. Not buying other companies or getting inspiration from other camps.

    Most things in your list might be OK products, but I wouldn't say all of them were brand new ideas when released.
  • by kendor ( 525262 ) <kennethfine@hotmail.com> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @04:04PM (#10814216)
    A number of the products and developments I listed are as close to an original conception as you're going to get. In the landscape of marketable tech, there is nothing new under the sun: if someone's willing to bet the life of a business on it, you can guarantee that it's been thought of, written about, and probably tested for years in academia.

    Microsoft has weaknesses like any company, but particularly in research and software engineering, I think they're among the more innovative companies. Just MHO.

  • by Dominatus ( 796241 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @04:26PM (#10814348)
    Is this a joke?

    Microsoft announced this idea several *years* ago, as part of Longhorn. While they haven't delivered yet, because well...Longhorn hasn't delivered yet, the idea was still there, and Apple most certainly didn't have Spotlight before that. Furthermore, MS even had the idea of virtual folders that would contain search results, which I hear is also a feature of Spotlight.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama