Last November, Google released its Deskbar, which allows you to search the web from your Windows toolbar without using a browser. I use it occasionally; but when I first learned about it I blogged a memo to Larry Page and Sergey Brin with what I thought was a brilliant idea, but probably one that had occured to them long before. I suggested that Google provide a free search tool that would index all your personal email and all the files on your desktop. If they did this two years before Microsoft releases Longhorn, with local and web search integrated into the OS, Google’s chances for survival would dramatically increase.
Well the NY Times reported yesterday that Google is doing exactly this with a project code-named Puffin, a project that reportedly has been in the works for about a year (several months before my memo!). Google will soon offer a free download of a local search engine tool that will index all the content on your hard drive and give you instant access to old and new files.
I bought X1, a local search engine, for $99 a couple of months ago and have recommended it to friends as a great way to search all the content on your hard drive, especially email. When Google offers its free download, I’m not sure X1 will have a prayer, unless Microsoft buys X1 and starts giving its tool away for free to compete with Google.
Long term, what is Microsoft to do to avoid being Netscaped? Microsoft gave away its web browser (and later bundled it with Windows) when Netscape