Microsoft’s new desktop toolbar, released today in its final version, adds several new features, but is missing the tabbed browsing function for Internet Explorer that had been previewed in beta versions.
MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search indexes all files on a hard drive so that users can later search through them. Searches can be done by contents of documents, e-mails, calendar entries, pictures and PowerPoint presentations. The free toolbar also allows users to preview documents on their hard drives in a window similar to that of a mail preview pane.
Microsoft May Have Advantage
Google, which released its toolbar in March, and Yahoo, which has a toolbar in beta, perform similar functions, but Microsoft may have a leg up on them, Andy Beal, vice president of search marketing for WebSourced, told TechNewsWorld.
“In particular, MSN appears to be leading the way in integrating toolbars with desktop search technology,” he said. “In order to utilize MSN desktop search, you must also install the MSN toolbar. This is a great way for MSN to increase the number of people that utilize the recently revamped MSN Search, although it could put off others who want the desktop search tool, but are not willing to install the MSN toolbar just yet.”
The index does not include information stored on Microsoft servers, such as Hotmail messages. Yahoo is working on indexing information housed on its servers in its toolbar beta.
One difference between the Google toolbar and the Microsoft version is that Google does not delete messages from its index even after they have been deleted from the e-mail program. Users can manually delete them from the index if they want to.
Beal said the addition of a toolbar is one way to increase traffic.
“Toolbars that offer useful features will continue to be popular among savvy Internet users. Google was one of the first major search engines to launch a search toolbar and that move has definitely helped them to grow market share and ward off MSN and Yahoo,” he said.
MSN Toolbar Suite requires Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 or Windows XP or higher and Internet Explorer version 5.01 or higher.