RealTime IT News

Google Officially Drills Down to the Desktop

After months of testing and tweaking, Google formally launched its desktop search tool in order to help users find a variety of information on their PCs.

The move opens a new front in the search wars, in which Google and deep-pocketed players like Microsoft , Yahoo and Ask Jeeves have designs on users' desktops.

Google Desktop Search Version 1.0 offers several advances over the test version, including search of PDF files, AOL instant messages and meta-information stored with music, image and video files.

The free downloadable tool also works with non-Microsoft browsers (Firefox, Netscape) and e-mail programs (Thunderbird and Netscape) and supports Chinese and Korean language interfaces.

"The primary reason for desktop search is stickiness," Kevin Lee, chairman of the search marketing firm Did-it, told internetnews.com. "Everybody wants to be synonymous with searching anywhere at anytime. In and of itself, there's not a huge revenue model associated with it."

Search powers see desktop search as one blade in a search Swiss army knife, said Lee. He believes Google's product is interesting, but that it's too soon to say if it will win in the desktop search space.

Support for open-source browsers and e-mail packages like Firefox and Netscape is increasingly important, as those products are making small but noteworthy inroads against Microsoft, Lee said.

A spokesman for the Mountain View, Calif.-based Google was not immediately available for comment.

In a statement, Jonathan Rosenberg, Google's vice president of product management, said the product "brings the power of Google search to information on the computer hard drive." Rosenberg said Google Desktop Search is "like having a photographic memory of everything you've seen with your computer."

Google Desktop Search indexes content created by the desktop computer or accessed by the browser whenever the computer is idle for 30 seconds or longer. The advantage is that files are available for search soon after they're created, Google says.

Google Desktop Search can also recover accidentally deleted or misplaced information. A user who deletes a Word document or PowerPoint slide can use the tool to find the text stored in Google Desktop Search.

Users can access desktop search via an icon installed in the Windows taskbar or at Google.com. Desktop search via the taskbar can be accomplished without an Internet connection.

The product is available for Windows XP and Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 and above. It requires 500MB of disk space, a minimum of 128MB of RAM, and a400MHz (or faster) Pentium processor is recommended.