Google Desktop Still Falls Short of MSN Desktop Search

by Preston Gralla

Google Desktop is out of beta, and despite a few minor improvements, MSN Desktop Search still beats it hands-down.

Google Desktop's final version adds some nice new features. It indexes and searches through sites you've visited in Firefox/Nestcape/Mozilla, as well as through mail in Thunderbird and Netscape email. It now tackles PDF files and music, image and video files. It can be run as a floating input box, or an input box in on your taskbar, although I've yet to get it to work on the taskbar. And it allows for plug-ins that extend its functionality.

But it still suffers from a fatal flaw: It treats your PC as if it were the Web, and so doesn't let you fine-tune your searches. So, for example, you can't search by folder, and you can't search for email based on whether it has an attachment or not. You can't specifically search To: and From: and other email fields. There are plenty of other similar shortcomings, and all because it refuses to recognize specific file attributes or the organization of your hard disk.

MSN Desktop Search, by contrast, was built to search with Windows in mind, and so does a far better job of searching. Want to find an email sent to you in a specific month from a specific person and that has an attachment over certain size? It's easy to do. Want to search by file type in specific folders? You can do that, and a lot more as well.

Still, I run both MSN Desktop and Google Desktop simultaneously, and I use Google Desktop on occasion. It's great for searching through web pages I've visited, for example. And I also use it to find emails I've deleted, because it keeps the text of those documents, something that MSN Desktop doesn't do. But when it comes to the daily work of searching, MSN Desktop Search comes out on top.

Which do you think is better -- Google Desktop or MSN Desktop Search?


2005-03-08 12:40:59
But Google has the SDK
And you can be sure all kinds of plugins will be developed by the community to search all kinds of repositories.

Just one day after going out of beta, there are several plugins already available for download at

I just wish Google exploits the remedies put in place by the Justice Department that require Microsoft to share more low-level information (

In that way, Google can do the low-level integration that MS does with MSN Desktop Search and even better.

Hey, maybe, somebody in the OSS community can get the license to the MS API and do the GDS integration using the SDK!

Even though MS brags about their complaince (,aid,113001,00.asp), IMHO, its all "busy-work" and "paper-shuffling".

Its funny how MS points out how they exceed the terms of the remedy by licensing SCO which supposedly offers "competing" servers... (yeah right!!!! Cough-cough-stooge)

Having the OSS community, perhaps through the Open Source Institute, get the MS technical documentation would be a coup!

2005-03-09 02:40:41
I haven't installed either and don't really feel the need to, but looking on the web I get the impression that MSN Desktop Search supports the IFilter interface that Microsoft Index Server has supported back since Google was a twinkle in Brin (and the other one whose name I can't be bothered to look up)'s eyes.

I would be much more impressed at the Google search if I didn't remember the AltaVista Personal Search product (which cost money to start with but became free) in 96-97.

A long memory in this industry can be a big obstacle to peace of mind, I often find...

2006-05-21 05:41:32
"Google Desktop ...great for searching through web pages I've visited ...also use it to find emails I've deleted, because it keeps the text of those documents"

Does this apply even if web history has been cleared and deleted items emptied from the Outlook bin?
If so, presumably there could be privacy issues with e.g. work computers being searched by management for email communications with prospective new employers etc?