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Google Businesses The Internet Operating Systems Software Windows

Google Experiments With Local Filesystem Search 482

Posted by timothy
from the better-than-what's-built-in dept.
Teoti writes "No, Puffin is not the next name of your favorite email client, but, according to the New York Times (NSA reg. req.), the project codename for a new Google search application coming directly into your desktop, that will let you search your local filesystem efficiently. This is different from, but complementary of, the Google DeskBar that already lets you search the Web. The article also gives a few words on the end of the stand alone browser in Longhorn."
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Google Experiments With Local Filesystem Search

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  • by JessLeah (625838) * on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:09PM (#9196962)
    I certainly hope this isn't a Windows-only thing.
  • by Sartak (589317) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:10PM (#9196965) Homepage
    Will Google's search application functions feature Clippy? Or that damned animated XP Dog?
    • by Asprin (545477) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (dlonrasg)> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:53PM (#9197400) Homepage Journal

      If searching is such a critical a problem, why does MS keep making their local file search utility less and less useful? Windows 98 had it just right for me -- maybe move the "containing text" box to the front tab, but otherwise perfect. Win2K made it worse by making the "search subdirs", "hidden" and "system files" options non-sticky and hidden. WinXP?! Too much damn clicking, waiting and NON-DOINGSTUFF! Let's just say "thank heaven for TweakUI" or someone in Redmond would have gotten a VERY unpleasent letter and a flaming pile of dog poo from me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:10PM (#9196967)
    ...exactly what "local filesystem image search" will return.

    Finally, a way to effectively search through my gigabytes of pr0n!
  • About time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:10PM (#9196971)
    FS searching has absolutely sucked until this. Find By Content from Apple was a step forward, but it never worked too well. Here's hoping this search will make it into OS X!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:10PM (#9196972)
    Google will also be able to catalogue the contents of your refrigerator, medicine cabinet, and be able to tell you your car keys are between the couch cushions.
  • by Mz6 (741941) * on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:11PM (#9196979) Journal
    • by (54)T-Dub (642521) * <tpaine.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:16PM (#9197045) Journal
      The Reuters version [reuters.com] you linked is shorter than the NYtimes one. Here is the full version:

      SAN FRANCISCO, May 18 - Edging closer to a direct confrontation with Microsoft [slashdot.org], Google, the Web search engine, is preparing to introduce a powerful file and text software search tool for locating information stored on personal computers.

      Google's software, which is expected to be introduced soon, according to several people with knowledge of the company's plans, is the clearest indication to date that the company, based in Mountain View, Calif., hopes to extend its search business to compete directly with Microsoft's control of desktop computing.

      Improved technology for searching information stored on a PC will also be a crucial feature of Microsoft's long-delayed version of its Windows operating system called Longhorn. That version, which is not expected before 2006 at the earliest, will have a redesigned file system, making it possible to track and retrieve information in ways not currently possible with Windows software.

      Google's move is in part a defensive one, because the company is concerned about Microsoft's ability to make searching on the Web as well as on a PC a central part of its operating system. By integrating more search functions into Windows, Microsoft could conceivably challenge Google the way it threatened, and destroyed, an earlier rival, Netscape, by incorporating Web browsing into the Windows 98 operating system.

      A Google spokesman declined to comment about the new search tool.

      Although Google's core business rests on huge farms of server computers that permit fast searching on the Internet, the company has already taken several steps to move beyond that business.

      Last year, Google began testing a free program called the Google Deskbar that makes it possible to search the Web by entering words and phrases in a small dialog box placed in the Windows desktop taskbar at the bottom of the computer screen.

      Google also sells a computer search system designed to index and retrieve information created and stored by a single organization.

      There is a rich history of less-than-successful attempts to create information search tools for personal computers. In the 1980's, for example, Mitchell Kapor's On Technology developed On Location for retrieving information on Macintosh computers and Bill Gross, a prominent software developer, led a group of programmers to create Lotus Magellan for the PC.

      Digital Equipment's Alta Vista search engine group also developed a search tool for data stored on desktop PC's. Today there are a number of commercial products for desktop searches like X1 and dtSearch. Moreover, both the Macintosh and Windows operating systems have file and text retrieval capabilities.

      The Google software project, which is code-named Puffin and which will be available as a free download from Google's Web site, has been running internally at the company for about a year.

      The project was started, in part, to prepare Google for competing with Windows Longhorn, which according to industry analysts will dispense with the need for a stand-alone browser.

      The disappearance of the Web browser and the integration of both Web search and PC search into the Windows operating system could potentially marginalize Google's search engine. Google, well aware of this threat, hired a Microsoft product manager last year to oversee the Puffin project as part of its strategy to compete with Microsoft's incursion into its territory.

      Microsoft has shown demonstrations of its new search technology, which emphasizes the use of natural language in queries like "Where are my vacation photos?" or "What is a firewall?" Microsoft believes that Longhorn users will no longer think about where information is stored; they will ins

      • You know when I read the line about dispensing with the web browser as we know in their next release, I find myself thinking.... there will never be tabbed browsing in any Microsoft "browser".

        I can't imagine not having this feature and it floors me that Microsoft can't imagine anyone ever needing it.
      • by Dun Malg (230075) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:00PM (#9197444) Homepage
        Microsoft believes that Longhorn users will no longer think about where information is stored; they will instead see a unified view of documents stored on both the Internet and on the desktop.

        This is one of the silliest notions I've ever heard. If they make no distinction between local files (in user's control) and files "on the internet" (beyond user's control), what kind of crap are we going to have to put up with when people start saying "hey, where's that document I was looking at yesterday?" because they never knew it was on someone else's hard drive and got erased.

  • Advertisements (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:11PM (#9196992)
    Wonder whether they'll start serving me ads based on my hard drive contents...
    • Gulp! (Score:3, Funny)

      Wonder whether they'll start serving me ads based on my hard drive contents...

      I hope not... That could get embarassing!

      OTOH, I might finally get word about those wild lesbian orgies in my area that I've heretofore only found out about after the fact [welivetogether.com].
  • privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Councilor Hart (673770) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:11PM (#9196993)
    So, will I get ads based on my data?
    • Re:privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Deitheres (98368) <brutalentropyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:24PM (#9197149)
      I don't foresee Google adding ads to a local search function... there are no ads on the Google toolbar, nor are there any ads on the Google Deskbar (save the ones that appear in the mini browser, but those are merely Google.com ads).

      Google seems to be as anti-ad as most people on Slashdot. I personally hate ads, but I feel that most of Google's ads are non-invasive and in good taste.
  • interesting (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pvt_medic (715692) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:11PM (#9196996)
    is it me or has google decided to go off on many different dirrections recently. I know they have been growing very strongly, but are they going to reach a point where they stretch their resources too thin?
    • Answer: (Score:3, Funny)

      by slash-tard (689130)
      No
    • Re:interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kircle (564389) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:21PM (#9197107)
      [Google] going to reach a point where they stretch their resources too thin?

      Google researchers are allotted 20% of their working time to do outside projects or to follow personal interests. Google News and Gmail were both results of work done during this "20%" time. So in short, no, I don't think Google has really stretched their resources any more so than before.
    • R&D is what keeps a company from becoming stagnant, and having to try to find new ways to squeeze money out of what it has. [For those companies that sell a tangible, especially a tangible disposable product, it's not as big of a deal].

      But to remain profitable in the long term, you diversify -- so you're not as likely to take a massive downfall from a single competing company. And you try to find new products and solutions, to improve what offerings you have (that whole concept of innovation).

      Google
  • by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:12PM (#9197009) Homepage Journal
    I recently searched several hundred thousand files on my work machine. It took nearly 90 minutes to complete the search. I expect Google will be able to significantly improve upon that. They're one of the few companies that I really trust to do the right thing.

    • Wouldn't the speed of the search be influenced mostly be the capabilities of your own computer?

      I haven't seen the code for either the client or the windows find utility, however I would expect that not too much can be done about your problems in there.

      That is to say, Google's utility won't cut your search time to 20 minutes just because they have better code.

      Then again, you never know with Microsoft...maybe the code is just that bad.

      I doubt it though.
      • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:30PM (#9197684)
        That is to say, Google's utility won't cut your search time to 20 minutes just because they have better code.

        I don't know about that... it used to take me several months to find a document on the Internet when I had to download and grep the entire World Wide Web. My bandwidth bills were astronomical. Since I started using Google, I can now find the same files in a few milliseconds. I say they have much better code than my old "wget -r http://*.*|grep foo".

      • by YellowBook (58311) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:37PM (#9197747) Homepage
        Wouldn't the speed of the search be influenced mostly be the capabilities of your own computer?

        Ultimately, yes, but there's searching and then there's searching. For example, searching a hashed index is much faster than just searching through files in a filesystem. You could generate an index of data and metadata for all files on the system and incrementally update it during idle times, for example, or do certain kinds of updates on an as-needed basis.

        GNOME used to have something like this, called Medusa. I think it was dropped because the existing implementation had performance problems (and possibly security issues?). However, it seems to be under redevelopment [cox.net], and it looks like it will be quite useful when it gets a bit further along.

    • by Petronius (515525) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:53PM (#9197397)
      yeah, once they cluster your box with theirs (i.e. copy your files), the searches will be fast.
    • I use Enfish find (Score:4, Informative)

      by Therlin (126989) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:55PM (#9197416)
      I have hundreds of word documents, PDF files, text files, e-mails in two different systems, etc.

      I purchased Find from <a href="http://www.enfish.com">Enfish</a> and it saves me several minutes everyday. They have fancier products, but $50 for the Find application is all that I needed.
    • Wow. You really need to turn on indexing. That doesn't sound right at all.

      On my XP machine I have in the neighborhood of 300,000 files, and a full-text search takes 1 minute, tops. On my Mac it's closer to 150,000, and a full text search takes about 25 seconds. 90 minutes sounds like something is seriously wrong.
  • by prostoalex (308614) * on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:13PM (#9197015) Homepage Journal
    NYT claims the Google PC search competes with Microsoft's. Although Microsoft has never been particularly strong in the area with either Search window in 2000 or that doggie in XP. For me in 1 cases out of 10 the text search (inside the documents, search for specific text) just do not work. There are other vendors that Google will be competing against, not necessarily Microsoft.

    X1 [x1.com] seems to be the most popular one out there.

    DiskMeta [diskmeta.com], they had this project in beta for a while, the Windows product went into relese just last week, the site says

    DT Search [dtsearch.com], I remember their ads in bunch of computer magazines, although have never used them myself.

    EFS [com.com], found it on download.com, supports MS Office and PDF as well as other formats.

    • Actually yes (Score:5, Informative)

      by Pranjal (624521) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:18PM (#9197073)

      If you have followed Microsoft developments around Longhorn you might have noticed that search is one of the top priority features that microsoft is going to integrate directly into the operating system. So once Longhorn is released Microsoft would become the biggest competitor to Google's search applications on the web as well the desktop(with this application)

      Search is the next big thing on which a lot of players are concentrating and Microsoft entering the field has skewed the competition towards the desktop and everyone including Google is preparing for the battle.
      • by jgerry (14280) *
        If you have followed Microsoft developments around Longhorn you might have noticed that search is one of the top priority features...

        Excellent! So I can have proper searching in 2008.
    • They aren't competing with Microsoft today. They are competing with Microsoft 2 years from now when Longhorn is, potentailly, supposed to be released. As the article states, Microsoft is looking towards more of a natural language (ie.. Where are my car pictures?) approach rather than simple search terms. It could be a pretty good battle between them, but I think Google might have a bit of an edge.
    • "NYT claims the Google PC search competes with Microsoft's"

      The more important question: can it compete with grep?

  • NYT Article (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ (264228) * on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:14PM (#9197033) Journal
    No-Reg Link [nytimes.com]
  • by jeremy f (48588) <jmf_24@hotmail.com> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:18PM (#9197081) Homepage
    The company who puts a cookie on your computer that doesn't expire until 2038 [google-watch.org], has the ability to see lots of personal information [orkut.com] about you, and who is interested in storing and indexing all of your email correspondance until the end of time, now wants to index my hard drive for me?

    Call me paranoid, and mod me down because I'm sharing a negative opinion of Google, but I don't think I'm going to be giving this same company the ability to sift through my entire hard drive.
    • by Stigmata669 (517894) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:53PM (#9197394)
      If you are worried about your privacy, don't accept these cookies, or regularly clean out your cookies. Maybe Google is being invasive but that doesn't keep you from looking out for yourself.
    • by irix (22687) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:49PM (#9197845) Journal

      I wish a could beat the creator of google-watch.org and every person who ever linked to it with a gigantic clue stick.

      First of all, the creator of google-watch.org has a really big axe to grind [google-watch-watch.org] with Google.

      Second, HTTP is a stateless protocol. If you want a user's preferences to to persist within a session you need to use cookies or attach a lot of state information to each GET/POST request. If you want the preferences to persist after you close and re-open your browser you have to have the user log in every time and store the prefs on the server or store the prefs on the client side in a cookie like Google does. This simple fact seems to fly right over the head of google-watch.org and their ridiculous cookie conspiracy theories.

      But hey, we've been over this in every Google story since the anti-Google FUD crowd started coming out of the woodwork. Here's a thought: if you really need a tinfoil hat then disable cookies, don't use Orkut and sleep better at night. But please stop subjecting people to google-watch.org FUD.

    • by jifl (471653) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:52PM (#9197867)
      At least you get the choice to not use Google. When Longhorn comes out, if Google fails and there is no other effective competition then there will be no choice, at least not for 95% of users. And much less transparency over what's being recorded and sent back to MS.

      Deleting a cookie is easy by comparison.
  • by nbvb (32836) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:19PM (#9197086) Journal
    Seems to be like a rehash of the AltaVista Desktop search ...

    I keep looking at Google and thinking "wow, this is just like AltaVista, without the death spiral!" :-)

  • by joabj (91819) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:23PM (#9197133) Homepage

    I remember Alta Vista offered this sort of search-your-own-computer software back in *1998*. This seems to be the most recent version: http://siliconvalley.internet.com/news/article.php /968131

  • Similar ideas (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:23PM (#9197135) Journal
    Well, first this idea is part of Microsoft's WinFS plans. The idea with WinFS was partially born when Microsoft developers realized that major parts of the web can be searched faster than a user's hard drive. It will be interesting to see how this application will collide with Microsoft's plans, that's for sure. It's basically fast searches and enhanced metadata support that are the key parts of WinFS, which is in turn a key part of Longhorn.

    Second, an indexing software that does the same thing is already available today and worked very well when I tried it out. It's actually almost perfect, except for the fact that it causes occasional hard drive thrashing as it tries to keep the index up-to-date. This is unfortunately a rather major downside, but if you can bear with this, you'll get literally instant file searches on your entire hard drive -- it narrows down the possible matches as you type each letter. It even indexes file contents for small files. I'm talking about X1 [x1.com].
  • by Karamchand (607798) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:24PM (#9197145)
    Google should ask Microsoft for information it has to provide according to the antitrust settlement so that Google's own program can interoperate with Windows as good as Microsoft's!
  • by JasonMaggini (190142) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:26PM (#9197171)
    Now, when Google can tell me where I put my keys [fark.com], then I'll be impressed.
  • by The Lynxpro (657990) <`lynxpro' `at' `gmail.com'> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:29PM (#9197217)
    Since Microsoft considers Google a major competitor and has its target set on Google with Longhorn's capabilities, I think it would be a great idea if Google started distributing their own version of the Mozilla web browser. With Google's reputation, there would definitely be more people making the switch to Mozilla based browsers if Google were to do this. After all, Netscape is considered a failure now by the public and Mozilla to a casual observer lacks credibility no matter how great the product is.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:21PM (#9197615)

      They do, in a way [google.com].

      Mozilla.org and firefox are the top 2 results if you search for web browser [mozilla.org]. Interestingly, the top links are: Mozilla, Firefox, Opera (twice), Safari, Netscape (twice), Galeon, evolt.org's legacy browser archive, and webstandards.org, in that order. The first page doesn't mention MSIE at all. MSIE is listed 5th on the 2nd page, after lynx, anybrowser.org, amaya, and Konqueror.

      It seems people who talk about browsers don't like to mention MSIE.

  • by Snork Asaurus (595692) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:33PM (#9197247) Journal
    Altavista put out a Windows search app based on their engine technology around 1998 (during their part-of-DEC, better-than-most-search-engines of the time phase). It indexed all documents and provided keyword searches that included Word docs, PDF's and more. It was free and a little buggy but showed promise. Then it just kind of disappeared.

    Perhaps Google can fill this void in the pathetic Windows power tool-set ("Windows power tool-set" being close to an oxymoron).

    But, despite my love for Google, in these more Orwellian times, I'm glad that I have the tools (not from MS) to monitor port activity.

  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#9197341) Homepage
    Call me crazy, but I actually just keep logically structured directories and make sure to save items into the appropriate location... It's much simpler to take 10 seconds to place a file in the appropriate directory at the start than to hunt for it later.

    Even when a file crosses multiple logical groups, (picture, jpg, family, nephews, 2004) if my information categories are sensible, and I use a heirarchy that makes sense to me, I don't need search that often. In fact, I can't recall the last time I had to do a search of my drive to find a file. (I should probably mention that my work requires a lot of information mapping, so creating and maintaining such a structure is trivial for me)

    Of course, since Windows search is so inefficient and (sometimes) problematic, I learned long ago not to rely on it.

    bluez3
  • by phoxix (161744) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:45PM (#9197343)
    grep -r $dir -I -H -n -e "foobar"
    a) it really works
    b) have fun!

    Sunny Dubey

  • Per the article's comments about Longhorn and the "end of the browser" and how MS is planning to integrate network access with local services and applications to the point where a browser won't be necessary.:

    Did I miss something? I thought Microsoft integerated the net with the local pc back in 1997 when they released IE4 and Windows 98 with desktop integration. Hrmmph... Go figure.

    Ok, I'm being facetious.

    Still, I'm not so certain this is a feature I want. In fact, until someone can demonstrate an example of why it would be useful, I'm certain I don't. I like having the local PC as a distinct domain separate from the net! I like that I have to open a program to access information that isn't stored locally! What am I missing about this -- is their focus group testing indicating that using a browser is just too confusing?

    You know what's confusing? Windows HELP -- and not just how you use it, but THAT IT EVEN EXISTS AT ALL! My lusers come up to me all the time with questions that could easily be answered with good ole' F1.

    ...but i digress, that's another issue.

    What bothers me is that all of the work going on at Microsoft is pointed at new ways to annoy me. You want to make me a happyuser? Get your lousy freaking vendor partners to stop auto-running useless programs in my system tray; cancel ActiveX (*without* adding the TDMA crap I don't want) and get rid of the Windows registry. My main concern whenever I hear about these new thingamabobbers they're cooking ip is "Eeek! How hard is it going to be to turn *that* off? I sure hope R&D cancels it before Longhorn gets out of beta." I honestly think it's time they consider forking the project, or XP is my last version of Windows. Period.

    There's just no joy in Windows anymore, you know what I mean?

    Sincerely,
    Eagerly awaiting Debian Sarge going stable in Ohio.
  • by Kaa (21510) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:47PM (#9197355) Homepage
    From the article:

    Microsoft believes that Longhorn users will no longer think about where information is stored; they will instead see a unified view of documents stored on both the Internet and on the desktop.

    I don't like this idea. At all.

    The main problem from my point of view has to do with ownership and control. Generally speaking, what's physically on my machine(s) is *mine*, that is subject to my total control (we'll leave aside intellectual property issues). I can add, change, delete, etc.

    Still generally speaking, what's on some machine I access over the net is *not mine* in the sense that my control is reduced. Usually other people can do something with that information (again, add, change, delete) and if the machnine is taken offline, I have no access and no control at all.

    As a simple example, consider a web page. In one case I make a local copy of it on my machine. In the other case I just have a bookmark. The difference in control is fairly obvious...

    Now, what happens if we make users believe there's no difference between their local hard drive and Internet? That we drill into their heads that they are the same?

    Well, you still have no control over information stored on the 'net. Thus, if you were trained to think that the local drive and the 'net are basically the same, then you would expect to have no control over information stored on your hard drive.

    Note that by an amazing coincidence, that's also the goal of DRM -- that you have no control over information (that they call content) stored on your hard drive.

    Also note that the flip side of the coin -- making your hard drive irrelevant by switching to a subscription service for everything, from OS to applications to content, is also a highly popular idea in Redmond and elsewhere.

    So color me highly suspicious with regard to that idea...
    • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @03:27PM (#9198303)
      Now, what happens if we make users believe there's no difference between their local hard drive and Internet? That we drill into their heads that they are the same?
      Well, you still have no control over information stored on the 'net. Thus, if you were trained to think that the local drive and the 'net are basically the same, then you would expect to have no control over information stored on your hard drive.


      People are already looking to do this voluntarily. Even among the pseudoenlightened here. Look through some of the comments regarding Gmail. And especially the (false) 1TB announcement.
      Scripting your wordprocessor to autosave to your 1TB (or 1GB) Gmail acct.
      Online hard drive.
      No more backup worries! I can store all my stuff on Gmail!
      Will they release the API so I can automate this?

      People won't need to be forced into this...they will come running.

      But I do agree with you. I don't like it either.
  • Longhorn? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ryosen (234440) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:48PM (#9197364)
    From the article: "The project was started, in part, to prepare Google for competing with Windows Longhorn, which according to industry analysts will dispense with the need for a stand-alone browser."

    Yeah, because IE is such a compelling product today that I have little need for an alternative.
  • by mabu (178417) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:54PM (#9197403)
    The Google Booty-bar, which searches your address book late and night and lists womens' numbers that are interested in getting together.

  • by Landaras (159892) <.neil. .at. .wehneman.com.> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @01:56PM (#9197421) Homepage
    No, Puffin is not the next name of your favorite email client

    But how do we know it's not the next name of my favorite web browser [mozilla.org]?

    - Neil Wehneman
  • by buzzoff (744687) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:00PM (#9197445)
    Google will win this battle.

    1. Microsoft doesn't understand that people LOVE Google. Nobody particularly LOVES Microsoft anymore. Product activation, high prices, and security flaws are causing too many headaches.

    2. Google is more innovative. What has Microsoft innovated in the past few years? Their products keep changing their look, but what about user behavior? AD changed admin behavior, but how has IE or Word gotten easier to use? Google has all kinds of creative stuff in the pipe. The Google toolbar has not only changed the way many of my users search, but it prevents a lot of popup related spyware installations as well.

    3. Google is clean. If I see that damn dog show up one more time I'll kill myself. When I search my file system I don't want to hide the stupid mutt, change my options so that subfolders are searched, then click through three screens to say I want to search my file system. Google will cut through this nonsense because they believe in simple/clean interfaces.

    4. The technology Microsoft seeks doesn't exist. Nobody can create a search engine based on current technology that takes plain speech user input and magically transforms it into accurate search results. Everyone I've seen that's tried this has failed to an extent. You can't just try your best to fuzzy match and pass it off as good results.

    • by mathd (656476) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:59PM (#9197947)
      3. Google is clean. If I see that damn dog show up one more time I'll kill myself. When I search my file system I don't want to hide the stupid mutt, change my options so that subfolders are searched, then click through three screens to say I want to search my file system. Google will cut through this nonsense because they believe in simple/clean interfaces.
      The dog problem is easy to fix.
      Create HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Curre ntVersion\Explorer\CabinetState\Use Search Asst as a new String Value and use the value "no".

      You'll have the old windows 2000 search dialogue.
    • by Petronius (515525) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @03:00PM (#9197956)
      Microsoft will choke Google the way it has always done it with competitors:

      they'll break an API so that the Google toolbar doesn't work anymore,

      they'll keep changing the specs of Office documents so that the indexer produces crap,

      they'll rebundle their Windows search service as a 'new' app, tie it to some online service they offer (password-protect it with Passport, access it via MSN, etc.),

      they'll fund zillions of bogus studies that declare their engine 5 times faster than Google's,

      they'll offer an add-on for SQL Server that lets you search the documents via SQL. Eventhough this feature will be buggy as hell, it'll help MS sell the whole thing to CIOs (hey, we could even integrate this with Outlook server as well! isn't that swell?)

      finally they'll start a patent war with Google on anything that's remotely connected to Windows (see recent Longhorn article on /.).
      I'm a little bit less optimistic.

    • by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @03:30PM (#9198343) Journal
      1. Microsoft doesn't understand that people LOVE Google. Nobody particularly LOVES Microsoft anymore.
      People loved Netscape.
      2. Google is more innovative. What has Microsoft innovated in the past few years?
      Netscape was more innovative at first.
      3. Google is clean. If I see that damn dog show up one more time I'll kill myself.
      One of my officemates near to started crying after I used her computer for a minute and disabled Clippy without thinking.
      4. The technology Microsoft seeks doesn't exist. Nobody can create a search engine based on current technology that takes plain speech user input and magically transforms it into accurate search results.
      Didn't. Didn't exist. My college had an excellent linguistics department. Microsoft interviewed every decent computational linguistics student that sent them a resume, and hired several. Yes, all natural language search products that I've seen have sucked. Not all such research projects that I've seen have sucked. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Microsoft innovates a little in this regard. Shocker, I know.

      So... hate Microsoft all you want. I've used and loved Google since 1998 (ie forever), and I'm not betting on this race.
  • Good for the goose? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rick Zeman (15628) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:02PM (#9197476)
    Google, well aware of this threat, hired a Microsoft product manager last year to oversee the Puffin project as part of its strategy to compete with Microsoft's incursion into its territory.

    That's the first time that I've ever read of it going in a direction away from Microsoft. Usually, it's the other way around, Redmond sucking up the managers and staff if they can't buy or steal the technology.
  • by evil-osm (203438) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:14PM (#9197565)
    ...10,000 Linux systems connected to your local system and it will all run snappy ;)
  • by K-Man (4117) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:37PM (#9197752)
    After the Google appliance, this seems like an expected move. The desktop is certainly key from a marketing sense.

    However I don't see a lot of overlap with web search. The major pieces won't work the same:

    Crawling: People want fresh information, eg that marketing report that just went out five minutes ago. Many web sites are happy to be crawled once a month. Keeping up with user edits on a filesystem is going to be a lot harder, and users will probably not be happy with heavy reindexing cycles. The ultimate would be heavily integrated with the filesystem, keeping an eye on all file activity, and refreshing the index appropriately. I believe Longhorn's delays are related to this problem.

    Indexing: Desktops have a lot of file types, and strange crypts like the Outlook. Certainly Google has some support in this area, but more may be needed. There are also other document units like email messages instead of files, or even database records.

    Fetching: Granted, a simple search toolbar will work, but I've been more impressed with, for example, Apple's Sherlock protocol, which allows multiple search "channels", eg Web, News, Stocks, etc., some from third party providers. IIRC this is what Firefox uses.

    Ranking: Pagerank is definitely not going to work, although that may not be such a handicap when hit counts are in the one or two-digit range. Still, it's not a competitive advantage.

  • by farzadb82 (735100) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @02:43PM (#9197794)
    How long before Google pushes their ad-words technology onto your desktop ?

    Would people be willing to live with ads sprinkled throughout their search items ?

  • by Spoing (152917) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @03:43PM (#9198475) Homepage
    This rack mounted search engine [google.com] is probably what the desktop search will be based on.

    It's sweet. Some features include...

    1. Google Quality and Ranking
      1. Find the highest quality and most relevant documents; Google factors in more than 100 variables for each query.

    2. Secure Search
      1. Search for secure information and view only those documents to which you have access; results are returned securely for documents protected by either NTLM or basic HTTP authentication.

    3. Dynamic Page Summaries
      1. Judge relevance of results more easily via dynamically generated snippets showing your query in the context of the page.

    4. Results Grouping
      1. Navigate search results easily and clearly using intelligent grouping of documents residing in the same narrow subdirectories.

    5. Automatic Spellcheck
      1. Avoid missing results through typos or misspellings as Google automatically suggests corrections with startling accuracy, even on company-specific words and phrases.

    6. Cached Pages
      1. View search results even when the sites are down via cached copies of pages included in the search results.

    7. Highlighted Query Terms
      1. Quickly find the most relevant section of a document via highlighted query terms displayed on cached documents.

    8. View as HTML
      1. Glimpse documents without needing the original client application of the file format via automatic reformatting of over 220 file types into HTML.

    9. Sort by Date
      1. Access time-sensitive information first via date sorting.

    10. Advanced Boolean Search
      1. Perform complex and sophisticated queries with over 10 special query terms, including Boolean AND, OR, and NOT searches.

      More details are available at the appliance page on Google.

      #2 above probably won't show up in the personal desktop version of the search, thouhg it is really is handy for the appliance -- even if you manage a modest sized office.

  • by telstar (236404) on Wednesday May 19, 2004 @03:44PM (#9198486)
    1. Netscape conquers the browser market...
    2. Netscape IPOs and climbs to some insanely high value...
    3. Microsoft integrates browser into OS...
    4. Netscape crubles...

    - - - - fast forward - - - -

    1. Google conquers the search market...
    2. Google IPOs and climbs to some insanely high value... (coming soon)
    3. Microsoft integrates search into OS... [Longhorn] (coming eventually)

    Where do you think the rest of this goes?

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