MSN Desktop Search Launched

Yesterday night (my time), Microsoft has released a beta version of MSN Desktop Search. MSN Desktop Search is Microsoft's answer to "Google Desktop Search":http://desktop.google.com. Personally I think it's also something meant as a temporary replacement for WinFS. Of course, it's not nearly as advanced, but it does, what most people will consider to be the most important feature of WinFS, well: search your hard drive, lightning fast. When you "download and install":http://beta.toolbar.msn.com MSN Desktop Search it'll dock into your taskbar (next to the tray): MSN Search

Once your harddrive is indexed (you can choose whether you want to index all your hard drives or just your My Documents and [Outlook] e-mail) you can just start typing a search query in the search box. It'll then search incrementally: MSN Search

MDS actually is part of the MSN Toolbar product. The MSN Toolbar is an IE toolbar, a lot like the "Google Toolbar":http://toolbar.google.com. When you search using the new "Beta MSN Search":http://beta.search.msn.com you'll also have the opportunity to search your desktop: MSN Search (Click to enlarge)

I've only briefly played with MSN Desktop Search, but it looks very nice and fast. As of this moment it's still indexing my harddrive (it has indexed 10,000 files so far and says it still has to do another 20,000). I've not tried Google's Desktop search yet, so I have no comparison matterial. But so far, I like it.

What I found interesting is what I read at "Microsoft-Watch yesterday":http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,1995,1739864,00.asp?kc=MWRSS02129TX1K0000535:

Lots of folks are expecting MSN on Monday to take the wraps off yet another beta of its MSN Desktop Search product (which is based on technology from the Lookout Software acquisition Microsoft made earlier this year).

According to Microsoft-Watch, MSN Desktop search is based on Lookout "technology". Lookout is a Outlook plugin that indexes your mail messages and allows you to search them in a snap. This plugin is a .NET framework application. Microsoft recently "acquired Lookout":http://www.lookoutsoft.com/Lookout/lookout-msft.html. Now, do you know what this Lookout "technology" really is? It's a port of the open source "Jakarta Lucene":http://jakarta.apache.org/lucene/docs/ search and indexing library. We use this library for "KeyTopic":http://www.keytopic.com as well. The port is called "NLucene":http://sourceforge.net/projects/nlucene. This would imply that MSN Desktop Search is not that much more than a really fancy wrapper around an open source search library...

There's one thing that makes me doubt that MSN Desktop Search really is based on Lookout: the .NET framework "is not part of the system requirements of MSN Desktop Search":http://toolbar.msn.com/moresysreq.aspx.

But whatever drives this, it works and it seems to work well. And that's most important. You can find the "software here":http://beta.toolbar.msn.com/.

*Update:* Apparantly MSN Desktop Search is "not based on Lookout technology":http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,1995,1740181,00.asp?kc=MWRSS02129TX1K0000535.