Desktop search avalanche set to hit

IDG News Service |  Software

Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. and Ask Jeeves Inc. are all set to jump into the desktop search space, two months after Internet search leader Google Inc. offered a test version of a tool that lets users search for information stored on their desktop computers.

Yahoo plans to debut a beta version of a new Yahoo Desktop Search tool in the coming weeks, the company said late Thursday. Meanwhile, Ask Jeeves is set to unveil its test offering Dec. 15, and Microsoft will release its desktop search beta next week as well, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.

Among the key benefits of desktop search tools is that users should be able to search through files on their desktops much faster and more thoroughly than they can with the search feature currently in Windows.

Yahoo's free Yahoo Desktop Search product will initially have a special focus on e-mail and e-mail attachments, as well as specific file types such as photos and music, according to Yahoo. The product will later be expanded so that users can search a broad range of Yahoo's online services, the company said.

Unlike Google, Yahoo has enlisted the services of a third party for its desktop search product. The tool is based on technology from X1 Technologies Inc., which has been selling a tool for business users for several years. In March, X1, of Pasadena, California, launched its 3.0 product, which sells for US$74.95 per user.

"We evaluated all of our options and believe that X1's application would provide our users with the best desktop search solution," a Yahoo spokeswoman said. Terms of the deal between Yahoo and X1 were not disclosed.

The major Internet search players are jumping into the desktop search space to fill a void left by Microsoft, said X1 President Josh Jacobs. "The tools that are provided in the core operating system are not sufficient to find and to manage all the information on our desktops," he said.

Ask Jeeves, in Emeryville, California, plans to launch a beta version of its desktop search tool on Wednesday, said Jim Lanzone, the company

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