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Google Launches Desktop Search Tool 715

hanky writes "Google brings search to your very desktop with Google Desktop, a mini Google index of your own. Search your filesystem, Outlook or Outlook Express inbox, AIM instant message transcripts, and Internet Explorer cache. There's a full introduction to the Google Desktop over at the O'Reilly Network. It's Windows-only, but still cool enough for this Mac guy to find it intriguing."
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Google Launches Desktop Search Tool

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  • by Control Group ( 105494 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:33AM (#10524642) Homepage
    Oh, the indecision!

    Being able to google my machine would be the best thing this side of perpetual motion.

    Having to start doing everything with AIM, IE, Outlook and MS-Office would be the worst thing this side of the universal solvent.

    Why, oh why, did they have to specifically aim this at all the apps I don't use?

  • Testing. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by loconet ( 415875 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:33AM (#10524649) Homepage
    So far in my testing, it has performed better than MS's own indexing service which comes with Windows.
    • by theluckyleper ( 758120 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:38AM (#10524720) Homepage
      Yahoo's coverage [] says: "Microsoft Corp., which is working on a similar file-searching tool that it recently said would not be ready for the next version of its Windows operating system promised for 2006."

      So it looks like the new MS search functionality won't even make it into Longhorn? I don't see why it's so difficult... I mean if Google could accomplish it, without intimate knowledge of the OS, Office/Outlook/etc file formats, and such, why can't MS do it 5 times faster? I'm confused.
      • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:02PM (#10525108) Journal
        Simply put, MS can't see the trees through the woods, the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

        MS is big. Really really really big. Gigantic. This means that often things are not going to be moving all that fast but worse still it allows for a real danger off management explosion. 10 progammers need 1 manager. 100 programmers need 10 manager and a manager to manage the managers. 10.000 programmers need 100 managers plus 10 managers of managers and 1 to manage all them and so on right?

        WRONG. It is more like 100 programmers need about 10 technical officers, 10 project leaders, 5 project supervisors, a human resource staff, marketing, etc etc etc. To lazy to type it all out but I been in situations where software development had me the programmer reporting to well over a dozen managers all who had their own agenda. So I spend less time programming then doing meetings.

        Worse a really good programmer who just spends his time developing will be quickly out of the loop and unable to find an audience for his ideas.

        MS probably has several teams who could easily do this. They are just lost somewhere in the management jungle.

        Why not find them? Well why should they? Management is doing okay, windows keeps selling the bonusses keep coming in. Why should management go after those creepy skilled programmers when they can deal with nicely suited once who speak their language and deliver the next point upgrade not to much past the deadline?

        Lets be honest (ms apologists cover your ears) MS has never been an inovative company at the leading edge. For crying out loud, it started as a unix company after every one else already had done unix and then turned it into dos.

        it added a gui only after only everyone else had done one and stole the design. it only got a somewhat 32bit OS by stealing it from IBM and the final irony (someone else pointed this out to me recently) only got that 32bit after others had already had gone to 64bit.

        MS can do it 5 times faster, if it wanted. It doesn't. So far playing catchup has worked extremely well. What you don't like the MS search function? Your not that bright are you? The only reason you don't like it is because you paid MS to use it. They got your money wether you like it or not. Your confused and poor, Billy isn't.

      • Because Microsoft's version including creating a new filesystem and have an SQL like search capabilities of the file system and meta data.
  • by rueger ( 210566 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:34AM (#10524654) Homepage
    Doesn't work with Mozilla, or Opera, or Pegasus mail, or Eudora..... Guess I'll wait for something less MS centric.
  • by VC ( 89143 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:35AM (#10524675)
    Thanks to me being a slashdot subscriber ive now had this for 6 mins and can offer a 6 minute review.


    i achived in the past 5 minutes more than the previous 3 weeks. It found my car keys (they were under the pile of oreily books)!!!
  • From the TOS: (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:36AM (#10524699)
    Unless you choose to opt out, either during installation or at any time after installation, non-personal information collected will be sent to Google.
    No thank you.
  • by Myuu ( 529245 ) <> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:37AM (#10524706) Homepage
    Do you forget Spotlight technology in Tiger which does this too and is integrated into the OS?
  • by kevinx ( 790831 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:37AM (#10524709)
    Now my wife could easily find out if I've been downloading porn.

    Great intention, bad Idea.
  • App Support (Score:3, Interesting)

    by johnthorensen ( 539527 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:37AM (#10524713)
    The sad thing about the Google Desktop is that, for the moment at least, it only supports things like the official AOL Instant Messenger software, Internet Explorer, and Outlook/Outlook Express.

    And I thought Google was supposed to be this big challenger to Microsoft???

    It would be nice to see support for Trillian and other IM clients in addition to Firefox/Thunderbird. I'm hopeful that this will come to fruition, I really can't see how it wouldn't. I can understand the strategy of releasing for these apps though, because of course every computer with Windows preinstalled likely has them.

  • by Power Everywhere ( 778645 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:38AM (#10524729) Homepage
    Come on Google, PowerPC users are a significant share of your audience.
    • by rhizome ( 115711 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:43PM (#10525755) Homepage Journal
      I've been using Quicksilver [] for the past six months and not only do I have access to all of my drive data, iTunes playlists, Safari (and other browser) bookmarks...but I also rarely use a mouse anymore. I don't have to poke around folders at all since with a hotkey I can type a few characters for Quicksilver to present a list of likely objects that I'm looking for. QS also ranks the hits based on usage, so for the most common tasks I only have to hit the hotkey, a few (or one) character(s) and hit enter. Like, for my Slashdot bookmark it's just apple-space, type 's', and hit enter since it seems to be the most common object I use that starts with "s". Quicksilver is completely extensible through a published API and a healthy user community writing plugins to access just about any kind of data that today's Macintosh has.

      Indispensible, and this is what I would hope the major MS/Apple/etc. efforts produce. Somehow I doubt it, though.
  • For Linux? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:43AM (#10524806) Journal
    Gosh - give me something like this for Linux, and I'll kiss some serious feet.

    I've been looking for something for YEARS to replace the "Excite for Web Servers" (EWS) which could easily be cadjoled into indexing your own (Linux) computer when combined with a local copy of Apache.

    It was downright AWESOME, but is no longer maintained, was based on an ANCIENT version of Perl, I've been unable to get it to work on anything beyond RedHat 6.2, and rights are not available anywhere that I've found.

    My home directory is 12 GB in size, and contains work going back 6 years. Making all this searchable would just be the cat's meow...
  • Sounds like Beagle (Score:4, Informative)

    by Xpilot ( 117961 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:43AM (#10524811) Homepage
    Linux users can try out Nat Friedman's Beagle [], which does something like what Google's desktop does. The Dashboard [] project uses it to find information pertinent to your current desktop task and displays it in a sidebar. Pretty neat. It's one of the C#/Mono projects that's available for Linux.

  • by Alwin Henseler ( 640539 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:44AM (#10524826)
    First Google was cool and independent. Now with e-mail account, "G" searchbox included in your favourite browser, maybe a browser of their own, instant messaging, shareholders onboard, and... a desktop?

    What's next? The Google operating system? Are we looking at the beginnings of a next-generation Microsoft-like empire?

    • by PetoskeyGuy ( 648788 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:47PM (#10525818)
      What's next? The Google operating system? Are we looking at the beginnings of a next-generation Microsoft-like empire?

      Yes, and then as you get older all the youngins will hate Google, and love some NEW company and you'll have to explain to them that Google used to be good, and Microsoft Bad, but Microsoft used to be Good and IBM bad but now IBM is good and maybe by then Microsoft will be good. Then there's the whole SCO/Caldera/SCO thing.
  • by baywulf ( 214371 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:45AM (#10524835)
    I wish it would search PDFs. I have a lot of free books, data sheets, manuals, etc. all collected over the years in a nice hierarchy of directories but it is always hard to find something that I usually try Google first before searching my collection. If it can instantly find stuff in my PDF it would help me a lot.
  • by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <brian.wylfing@net> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:47AM (#10524880) Homepage Journal
    It's been my belief for a while that Google is going to be the storage medium of the future. Eventually we'll all share one big searchable "disk" called Google. Gmail and this local search tool are stepping stones toward that end.

  • Review (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheJavaGuy ( 725547 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:48AM (#10524894) Homepage
    Here [] is a thorough review.
  • Microsoft's Lookout (Score:4, Interesting)

    by __aaitqo8496 ( 231556 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:49AM (#10524908) Journal
    For those of you that don't know, take a look:

    Microsoft bought this company which beat Google to the punch on desktop searching. Kinda funny that the letters on the main logo look very Googlish...
  • by illuin ( 113072 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:49AM (#10524911)
    According to the FAQ, you can request [] that Google Desktop support new file formats.

    Of course, what would be really nice is if new formats were supported via plugins, and if google would distribute a simple API so the open source community could contribute new plugins rather than waiting for google to implement them.

  • Spotlight (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jon Abbott ( 723 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:50AM (#10524916) Homepage
    It's Windows-only, but still cool enough for this Mac guy to find it intriguing
    Apple will be offering a somewhat similar feature called Spotlight [] in OS X 10.4 next year. The one immediate difference I see between the Google Desktop and Spotlight is that Spotlight will index text contained in PDFs.
  • Pigeons!!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by ryane67 ( 768994 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:55AM (#10525003)
    Google search and ranking in my pc!??! How will all of the PIGEONS [] fit in there?!!?
  • by saintp ( 595331 ) <stpierre@nebrwes ... minus pi> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @11:58AM (#10525044) Homepage
    For all you complainers:
    > fgrep -e query -ilr /
    And it doesn't even need a gig of free space.
  • Gmail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rayde ( 738949 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:00PM (#10525074) Homepage
    now if only it would allow me to link it to a gmail account to include that mail as well as the outlook stuff.
  • scary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Harper ( 5397 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:09PM (#10525206) Homepage Journal
    i have been using this for the past 30 minutes at work. all the while my friends are messaging me, i am reading emails - and i am able to see the status of the number of indexed items grow with every chat i engage and with every email i read(not literally of course). What scares me is how instantaneous it indexes things. it would easily allow my boss to search and find the ONE conversation that breaks policy. This is really cool - but it strikes fear into my cold black heart.

    i was poking around wiht the indexes a little
    (located at C:\Documents and Settings\~username~\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Google Desktop Search\ in xp) and i really wasn't able to ascertain anything. haha. i just want to see how 'encrypted' the aim chats are. logs are scary at work. and searchable hidden logs are even scarier.

  • by kirkjobsluder ( 520465 ) <kirk AT jobsluder DOT net> on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:27PM (#10525493) Homepage
    You have to read the documentation to set it up, but swish-e [] is an indexing and search system that I've found to be quite effective. It can handle MSWord (with catdoc) , pdf (with xpdf) and mp3 meta tags. It's also not very hard to write a script to extract documents to stdout as well. It comes with C and perl bindings and there is a python interface [] as well.
  • wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SComps ( 455760 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:33PM (#10525605) Homepage
    Does anyone remember the targetted advertising of Gmail and how it sorta browses your email to place "relevent" ads on your screen?

    Now uhh.. they want to be on your desktop, integrating with the browser, your email, your chat clients and so on?

    Am I the only one that didn't overlook that just maybe Google wants to get in on the ground floor of your computer so it can sell you shit you're only vaguely interested in? Now I know that it says it'll only send what you give it explicit permission to send (did you read that EULA carefully? I didn't, just considering the possibilities) Also says non-identifying statistics will be sent.. you can opt out of that. What statistics? The list really sorta goes on. I'm not slamming Google for doing this. I just don't trust them as far as baby pigs can hop.

    I personally can't imagine me giving Google permission to browse my computer, email, and chats at will. That's some scary stuff. I can see Homeland Security rubbing their hands together and writing the "we want that info" letters now--cause we're all terrorists you know... it's only the degree of terror we're willing to inflict.

    • Re:wait... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Peyna ( 14792 )
      The only info Google will have is very basic usage statistics, no content or otherwise. Information that would be basically useless to anyone else. All the searching is done locally, and the information about what the search actually contained is stored locally.

      Get rid of the tin foil hat, it seems to be restricting the blood flow to your brain.
  • by abcxyz ( 142455 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:36PM (#10525645) Homepage
    I installed it about an hour or so ago (home pc), and have some 22,000 items indexed, which includes a portion of my work Outlook email (VPN connection, died -- looks like network is down). Searches are very quick, and it's nice that a regular google search checks your desktop search as well. I wish, like every one else that it would search my firefox cache, since I don't use IE at all except for updates. I would rarely need to search my web cache, so that's not a huge problem. Hopefully a future release will add pdf and gmail support as well. For me, IM history is not an issue since we use it so infrequently.

    Will install on work PC next week - curious if it follows mapped network drives as well. Maybe I'll finally be able to find the files I've been looking for over the past two years!
  • APIs, please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Texodore ( 56174 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:48PM (#10525849)
    This would be an excellent product to add some APIs to. People are complaining about PDF, Trillian, GAIM, Firefox, etc. If an API allowed users to add their own extensions to search for other formats, we wouldn't have to wait for google.

    I request APIs for extensions.
  • by UpLock ( 640192 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @12:56PM (#10525955)
    Desktop searching is less useful than you might imagine. Truly losing track of a local document is not as common as, say, losing track of an image--now there's a hard search problem! This is where Google has the real edge over Copernic: [] By integrating with their browser tools, Google causes every GDS search to automatically incorporate desktop results, rolled-up, at the top of the returned Google page. You see *both* local and global results for everything you look-up. This reinforces the utility of local search every time you use Google, where Copernic just sits there on the taskbar, waiting for the occasional use. So does GDS, but I'll wager you'll rarely use it. Compared to the number of times you web search and are surprised to see local hits incorporated in the return, local search will be insignificant. Reinforcement of utility is important to adoption. Even if you don't mean to, getting local drive results every time you Google will feel gratifying. Advice to Copernic: sell out to Yahoo now.
  • Privacy Concerns (Score:4, Informative)

    by tabdelgawad ( 590061 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @01:51PM (#10526629)
    Both the NYT and Washington Post [] have frontpage articles on this. From the WPost article:

    "Once the Google search technology is installed for free on a personal computer, it will transmit basic data daily about usage patterns. For example, it will tell the company how often Google is being used to search personal computers, how often it is used to search the Web, and how often simultaneous searches are done. Google lets users opt out of sending some usage data, but not all of it.

    However, Mayer said the data collected will be aggregated so that the company knows where to focus its efforts on upgrading the search technology. She emphasized that the daily up-loading will not transmit any personal information to Google and said it is typical for major software programs that offer voluntary upgrades and fixes for bugs to capture that sort of information as a matter of routine."

    This makes me hesitate to install it on my work PC, even though indexing Outlook is soooo tempting ...

  • by blekkazzen ( 822163 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @02:02PM (#10526749)
    It's a lot less fun when your Google search finds your OWN porn.
  • Yes! (Score:4, Funny)

    by wandazulu ( 265281 ) on Thursday October 14, 2004 @03:58PM (#10528090)
    It indexes C/C++ files! Google wins!

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