The latest gambit from the folks at Google: proving that their software can find documents on your Windows computer faster than Windows itself can. The new Google Desktop, a free downloadable program, applies Google’s indexing technology to your hard drive, drastically speeding up keyword searches of files such as Word, Excel, and Powerpoint documents, Outlook e-mail messages, AOL Instant Messenger conversations, and Web pages you’ve viewed.
Google isn’t the first to introduce such technology; X1, Enfish, and several other companies sell utilities that index local documents, and Blinkx recently introduced a multipurpose program that monitors what’s on your PC screen and shows related documents stored your hard drive or on the Web. But Google is the biggest player in the search business to launch a major incursion onto the desktop, beating even Microsoft to the punch. (Microsoft’s next-generation Windows system, code named Longhorn, was to include a new file system called WinFS that was designed in part to make searching across different document types easier. But officials in Redmond said recently that WinFS won’t be ready in time for Longhorn’s projected 2006 release.)