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Friday, November 04, 2005

Google Upgrades Desktop Search

Google Thursday unveiled an updated version of its desktop search tool, Google Desktop 2. The free download combines desktop search with Google Sidebar, which makes customized news and other information easily accessible to users. An additional feature in the new desktop search is a personalized maps panel, which displays maps relevant to a user's geographic location, interests, and online activity. The revised product also offers various sidebar panels for other services, such as American Express--so consumers can track credit information in real time--and iTunes. Google has also made extra APIs available so developers with varying degrees of experience can use JavaScript to create additional sidebar plug-ins.

In addition, for businesses, Google has added several new enterprise features in an effort to improve administration tasks and security. Google also launched a desktop search-related blog on Thursday.

Google unveiled the official version of its first desktop search product, Google Desktop Search 1.0, in March after six months of testing. Google was the first of the major search players--Yahoo!, AskJeeves, and MSN--to formally launch a desktop search product.

It wasn't until late September that chief rival Yahoo! launched its own desktop search product, which launched in beta in January. Upon the launch, Yahoo! added a contextual search feature, "LiveWords," which enables users who use the desktop search to retrieve documents from their hard drives to then highlight terms within those documents--and with one click, search the Web for pages related to those highlighted words.

Yahoo!'s desktop software, used for searching hard drives, can index content from over 300 different file types, including Microsoft Office applications, Adobe PDF, and assorted music and video formats. The beta version of Yahoo! Desktop first launched in January--after rivals Google and Microsoft debuted their own beta versions.

Microsoft's MSN unveiled a toolbar and desktop beta in December, and then launched officially in mid-May. New features include a preview window that allows users to drag and drop searched items into other applications; the ability to customize both the files indexed by the search algorithm and where the index file is stored; and the ability to download additional third-party plug-ins that allow different file types to be searched.

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