Google Revises Desktop Search Tool
Google's first version of desktop search--officially launched in early March after a beta debut in October--allowed users to search their hard drive for a number of different files, including many of those used by Microsoft applications like Word, Excel, and Outlook.
The major Internet search engines are in a race to refine desktop search. Shortly after Google launched its desktop tool in beta last October, its competitors quickly followed suit, with MSN and Yahoo! launching desktop search applications of their own in December.
Google's newest desktop search tool gives the company an even stronger presence on the Windows desktop than did the first version, because the upgraded tool inserts a Google-branded sidebar that can be positioned anywhere on the user's screen.
Jupiter Research Analyst Michael Gartenberg said Google's newest desktop search tool is a bid to gain a greater presence of the portion of consumers' computers--their desktops--controlled by a rival's application, Windows. "When you control important aspects of the desktop like the user experience, that becomes a very big deal," Gartenberg said. "Google has done a very good job of building their applications and technologies on top of Microsoft's."
The short-term strategic thinking behind the move, Gartenberg said, is to use the control of the desktop to drive users to monetized Google properties--The sidebar has Gmail access built in, and includes a search bar that can be used to search the Web.
But Google works in mysterious ways, and their longer-term designs are less clear. Gartenberg said that this product could be the first step to a major desktop offering like a Google operating system or a Google browser, or it could just be Google carving out a space for itself in Microsoft's desktop territory. Google also released the APIs for Desktop Search 2 along with the product on Monday. "Now you'll have people start developing applications for the Google sidebar, and then you have people building on that platform instead of Microsoft's," Gartenberg said.