Thursday, October 21, 2004

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > State of the Art: Google Takes On Your Desktop

The New York Times > Technology > Circuits > State of the Art: Google Takes On Your Desktop: "Of course, every operating system offers a Find command. But the one in Windows is not, ahem, Microsoft's finest work. It requires too many clicks, it asks too many questions, it takes forever, it can't search your e-mail and its results are difficult to interpret. As a final insult, Microsoft endowed the supposedly ultramodern Windows XP with a cartoon dog that appears during the searching, as though to say, 'We know this is taking a long time, but hey, watch the puppy!'
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But already, Google Desktop Search has many rivals. Lookout (www.lookoutsoft.com), for example, is a free- add-on for Microsoft Outlook that can search not only your e-mail but also your address book, calendar, e-mail attachments and even files on your hard drive. Microsoft liked it so much that it bought the company.
There's more power and flexibility to be had in programs like Blinkx (www.blinkx.com, free), Lycos Hotbot Desktop (www.hotbot.com/tools, free), Enfish (www.enfish.com, $50 and $200) and DT Search (www.dtsearch.com, $200). For example, these programs can search more kinds of files than Google Desktop. Whereas Google searches only your main (C:) hard drive, its rivals can search secondary drives and removable disks (like CD's), and the expensive ones can even search other computers on your network. Most come in free trial versions, so if you're Google-phobic, by all means give them a shot.
You'll learn from the experiment, though: with great power comes great interface clutter. Few of those rivals can touch the familiarity, speed and simplicity of Google Desktop, and they don't offer Google's delicious photographic-memory feature. If you use Windows XP or 2000 - and especially if you use Outlook, Outlook Express, Internet Explorer or AOL Instant Messenger - download Google Desktop Search. You have nothing to lose but Fido the Time-Killing Windows Dog."
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