Monday, May 16, 2005

MSN Desktop Search Moves Out of Beta

Microsoft's MSN division on Monday launched its Toolbar and Windows Desktop Search product after five months of beta testing. The new toolbar promises to give a taste what search experience Longhorn is expected to bring. Noticeably missing from the final release, however, was a tabbed browsing feature that appeared in early betas.
Microsoft planned to bring a tabbed experience to Internet Explorer 6 through the toolbar, but pulled the feature shortly before release, sources told BetaNews. Microsoft plans to add tabbed browsing to the product in a future release, but fully integrated tabs will only come in Internet Explorer 7, the company said.

The suite includes three toolbars, one for Microsoft Outlook, a toolbar for Windows and Internet Explorer, and a toolbar for the Windows taskbar.

During periods of inactivity, or on laptops when they are plugged in, the software will index files on the user's computer allowing for near-instantaneous results when the search is used.

"By offering the most integrated desktop search capabilities for Windows, now people can search their PC as fast as they can search the Web," MSN vice president Yusuf Mehdi said in the announcement. "The new MSN Search Toolbar makes it easy for customers to find precisely what they’re looking for, no matter where it resides."

The toolbar also includes a pop-up blocker and form fill functions to enhance the browsing experience. Users of MSN's line of services, such as Hotmail, Messenger and Spaces, will find one-click access within the product.

Apple recently added a desktop search feature of its own within the latest version of its operating system, Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. Called Spotlight, the feature works much like MSN's, which has caused some consternation internally within Microsoft.

Some within have claimed that Apple lifted the idea straight out of early builds of Longhorn. Apple, on the other hand, said publicly that the idea for Spotlight had been in the works for several years -- long before any inklings of improved search capabilities within Windows came out of Redmond.

MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search is available for users in the United States running Windows XP and Windows 2000. International versions will be released later this year.

Microsoft also said that it expects to have a corporate version of Windows Desktop Search in beta form by the end of the year.

Reference: Betanews

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