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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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  • Integrates? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DamienNightbane ( 768702 ) * on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:14PM (#10813348)
    So what they're saying, is that when it comes installed in with Longhorn, we can't uninstall it?
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:24PM (#10813428) Journal
    IIRC, MS had been chattering about a deep level search function for "the next OS" since Win 95, called WinFS. It was finally supposed to be in Longhorn, but it was ditched about a couple months ago (According to an article here on Slashdot). []

    Perhaps they dumped WinFS, previously known as 'NT Object Filing System', because this will do most of what it did with less of a hassle in programming and backward compatibility?

    And - where is the role of metadata in all of this?


  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:31PM (#10813469) Journal
    I would be extremely surprised if Microsoft would support those, and just make thier desktop search support their own godforsaken applications.

    I wonder if there is any off-line search engine like X1, Copernic, or that one, for Windows that support search plugins via some kind of API. So a developer can add e.g. mp3 ID3 tag search, DVD metadata search and other things like that. If MS is going where I think they're going, they'll just drown in the bunch of desktop search engines with nothing new to offer. I can't see why not even Google was thinking of this when they designed theirs. Right, we're supposed to wait for a single company to let me search for what I want efficiently? That feels so... err, stone age.

    A feature like that would be great and certainly an idea for as an upcoming open source project -- read another article here that they were looking into this area.
  • by aegilops ( 307943 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:39PM (#10813521) Homepage
    I've been running both for a while now. Some observations:

    Google Desktop supports Unicode which is invaluable if you use non-ASCII languages, like my wife does. YMMV. However the Google Desktop search is not integrated into the Outlook shell (understandably) nor the Google Deskbar, which I think is an obvious oversight - and suggested as much to Google.

    Lookout allows you to index mapped drive letters or network locations, which Google Desktop doesn't. This is great for me where I have documents on a laptop's local hard drive as well as on network shares. I can't quantify it, but I think it has slowed down my Outlook 2003 a little, particularly on start-up. Most hits are returned in less than a tenth of a second. My major gripe about Lookout is that when I move items from my inbox to my PST it stuffs up the index - I know it rebuilds the full index once a month, but more often than not I look for something that has been indexed as being in my Inbox, yet I have since moved it to this month's PST folder. Nonetheless, it gives me a clue what to look for in my PST. I predominantly use Lookout for Outlook at work, and can't really comment on how this compares to using Google Desktop search on a "busy" Outlook mailbox.

    Both systems use the CPU power of your workstation to build the indexes when idle. I think this is poor. E.g. you disconnect from the network and go roaming. When you return to the office, you want to find all documents and mails containing 'squeamish ossifrage'. Why should you have to wait for your PC to do the indexing? And does your indexing process "touch" each file? If it does, it could seriously screw up any attempts to archive all old data - everything would look current as every file was being touched by all PCs' indexing programs.

    Surely it's feasible to get a master indexing catalogue built from a number of indexing sources. What I would like to see is an indexer for Exchange that indexes each individual mailbox but returns user-specific queries. So when I dock back at the office, I can immediately search for new documents that have been delivered to the Exchange server while I've been disconnected, and indexed on my behalf. Of course, what hits I get returned are unique to me as only my mailbox index is visible to me - as your mailbox index is unique to you. Meanwhile, common areas, such as shared file servers / public folders / web content etc can have their index shared across both of us.

    Nonetheless, do not underestimate the joy of being able to use either of these tools and have an instantaneous method for locating a buried document that you know is somewhere on your PC, yet cannot remember precisely where.

  • Re:I, for one... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:45PM (#10813556) Journal
    You're not alone in being unimpressed by their software. With Google's tradition of implementing amazing new technologies (like the shocker 1 GB free mail now with POP3 support) and their search engine itself, GDS just gave a big "huh?" from me. It's barely even usable and as far as I can see, both X1 and Copernic is much better. What was the deal about only Microsoft formats? Why didn't they make GDS support the formats we wish to support via a plugin architecture?

    And it's of course very strange and inconsistent it doesn't support searching within filenames when Google Web search searches within URL's. They should've looked a bit more at that one for ideas of pushing the limits in search technology, I can think of numerous operators the web search don't support but that GDS could. But right now GDS feels more like an alpha than anything else, and I sure hope we'll see a lot of improvements to it from Google or it'll be one of the most useless tools they've produced.
  • Re:Spotlight anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eyeye ( 653962 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:56PM (#10813607) Homepage Journal
    Same old microsoft they are just jumping on the bandwagon that blinkx and others have already explored.

    The can make a success of a copied idea though, in the same way britney can get away with doing terrible cover versions, brand recognition.

    p.s blinkx seems shit, it cant search the contents of files and has a bizarre user interface. I looked for a search prog because MS's search function ignores many of my files.
  • Desktop Search (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wviperw ( 706068 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @01:58PM (#10813619) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only one who doesn't get the point of this new-fangled "Desktop Search" idea? I mean, I tried installing the Google Desktop Search for awhile, but I never actually used it. In fact, I couldn't even think of a use for it. Unless you're hard drive is completely unorganized, or you're on a multi-user computer, I don't see the point of searching for things you should already know you have.
  • Re:Integrates? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TCM ( 130219 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:05PM (#10813650)
    Be honest, did you say that about XP as well?

    I remember the outcry about XP:

    "It's just Win2000 with eye cancer"
    "2000 is just fine"
    "Activation crap!"

    Nowadays it's just

    "Feature x is not as easy as in XP"
    "Tool y runs suboptimal on 2000"
    "XP is just 'newer' and thus better"
    "Use the corporate edition"
  • by Luscious868 ( 679143 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:28PM (#10813762)
    When Microsoft decides it's time to compete they always have the same MO:

    1) Buy a company that is already doing it and doing it fairly well.

    2) Rapidly make "improvements" to the software (including whatever adjustments necessary so that it only works well with other Microsoft products) without focusing on security issues.

    3) Release it, giving it away for free if necessary.

    4) Continue to update and improve it while you drive the competition out of the market.

    4) Integrate it into the next version of Windows (again ignoring any potential security issues) to put a final stake in the heart of your competition.

    5) Once the competition is gone, move the developers on to something else.

    I don't care how good their desktop search product becomes; nobody who uses Windows should ever use it. It'll be crap when it's first released but get better and better. Eventually it will probably be better than the offerings from other companies but have no illusions. If Microsoft is able to gain market dominance, they'll stop working on the product. Of course, by that time it'll be integrated into the OS and there will be a whole host of security vulnerabilities just waiting to be exploited by the script kiddies.

    We've been through this before with Internet Explorer, Outlook Express, Windows Media Player, Windows Messenger, etc.
  • Re:Spotlight anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:38PM (#10813806)
    Another sign read "Introducing longhorn" with the Mac logo on it. I thought it was funny then but now I see it was prophetic.

    As usual MS is using apple as an R&D dept. As usual Apple will beat them to the punch.

    What I want to know is how MS developers sleep at night.
  • by kendor ( 525262 ) <> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @03:58PM (#10814174)
    You confuse a good UI/tool design with other issues, probably deliberately so.

    Your assertion that Remote Desktop is insecure is interesting to me. Can you substantiate it? And what exactly do you mean by "hack?"

  • Re:The Bottom Line (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spongman ( 182339 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @09:25PM (#10816428)
    you forgot OS X

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.