Google desktop search is a disappointment

So, Google has finally released their desktop search product. I’d like to get excited about it, but I just can’t.

Dave Winer seems pretty excited about the fact that GDS is basically a web application in that the UI is exposed through a local webserver. This is cool, as Dave obseves, “You can use it with any browser. Right on.”

Very cool, except that there is basically no reason I’d want to use it with another browser. GDS only indexes history on IE, and only indexes e-mail in Outlook and Outlook Express. I don’t use IE, and I don’t use Outlook or Outlook express. That leaves the filesystem indexing feature, which frankly isn’t that interesting.

Most of the stuff of interest locally is either stuff in my e-mail, or stuff i’ve already seen on the web and Google won’t touch that for people like me who use something other than the dominant browser and mailreader. Of course, it could be that some clever dev at Google had the presence of mind to index Firefox cache and Thunderbird’s mail, and their marketing people just aren’t mentioning it.

It makes sense for Google to be focusing on the biggest market. Still, its dissapointing to see Google ignoring the people who are probably most likely to embrace cool new technology and evangelize it. Very very uncool.

7 thoughts on “Google desktop search is a disappointment

  1. bobby writeo

    Have you even bothered to install it and see what it can pull up on your system? As with most journalists eager to publish before another source beats them to the punch, you seem to have a lot to say without any substantive examples to provide.

    I dont use outlook either, and because I know how to keep my system clean (unlike 80% of the so-called hip but unsavvy Mozilla switchers out there) -I can still use IE without any problems. So why switch?

    Anything I open in IE seems to be fair game for caching. This includes my yahoo, Aol, gmail, aim chats, aol chats. It also pulls up virtually all my text oriented files, ie. word, wordperfect, old school write, text, html files, etc. The average user, (and even M$ exclusionary whiner) could easily find this program as useful as I have. Now if they could only index PDF and let me index multiple drives, i’d be golden!! It’s beta for cryin out loud, give it a try!

  2. eas

    I’ve known pretty much exactly what I wanted in a local search app for at least two years. The Google beta is falling short in my chosen environment, so I wrote about it.

    I have tried it. Index build times seem really good, and I’m impressed with how quickly it returns results while maintaining such a modest memory footprint.

    BTW, why the need to insult me?

  3. sushubh

    errm… as long as the cache is stored in html format, google would cache it. right? 😀 and thunderbird saves mails in text format :D… not exactly how it works with outlook… hence still not good enough.

    but then, it’s a preview release. 🙂 and google improves things with time. instead of bloating it!

  4. eas

    sushubh: As I noted in my post this morning, I thought that GDS might index my Firefox cache as well as my Thunderbird mailbox since both are indexed file types. I experimented though, and it hasn’t done it, even though it seems to have completed its indexing run.

    It’s probably just as well. As I recall, Thunderbird stores things as MBOX files, which amounts to one flat file per mailfolder. If I did get a hit, the summary might show me the content I wanted, but I’d have to go to a bit of trouble to find the matching section when it opened the file.

    It might be happy in some cases to have it index my cache as ordinary HTML, but in general, I’d really like the context of knowing what site the page was from when I look at the summary.

  5. Deb

    ” Now if they could only index PDF and let me index multiple drives, i’d be golden!! ”

    I’ve found that GDS caches files I’ve opened from our network drives, and links to the file directly if you should want to open it. That may work for a multiple hard drive config.

    Have faith… Google is great at improving their product. Also, TELL them where they can improve. As a developer (not for Google), feedback is crucial!

  6. Peter

    I agree with you 100%

    Unless Google adds Firefox/Mozilla/Thunderbird support there is no reason to use this thing.

    And bobby, I switched from IE because it is a piece of crap. I’ve always kept it clean as well so don’t think you’re so 1337 by living with a crappy program.

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