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MSN Search

Week of December 14, 2004

I said my my my
Like a spider to a fly
Jump right ahead in my web
Jump right ahead and you're dead
 - M Jagger, K Richards

And I still haven't found what I'm looking for.
 - DH Evans, PD Hewson

Microsoft have released their reply to Google Desktop and Apple's coming Spotlight. As always with Microsoft, you get both more and less than you bargain for.

Setting aside the obvious security and privacy concerns in all these so-called technologies and the obvious reflection that people with an ounce of brains and the wherewithal to remain organised won't have a clue what any of this is good for, it is 'cute' to see Google enter the desktop arena and it is technically interesting to see Apple create a modular 'API' out of the idea.

And it's typical, so typical, that Microsoft, who long have dominated the desktop, are doing things that neither enter new markets nor establish anything technically worthwhile.

Issues with Microsoft and their so-called 'search technologies' are of course not new. Already with XP betas people noticed only documents edited by Microsoft products turned up in search results. If text files normally associated with the incredibly paraplegic Notepad should suddenly be relegated to a better editor, they totally disappear.

[Not that this - or any such issue - has ever worried the XPT user: X-file Suite searches are fast and 100% thorough and 100% accurate and would never stoop to relying on search indexes or funky Redmond marketing chicanery. Click here.]

And we're back there again.

  • MSN Search requires Internet Explorer, the crappiest browser on the market.

  • MSN Search will only ruminate through mail files created by Outlook, the most (some would say the only) dangerous mail client in the world.

  • MSN Search is not a technology; it has no 'API'; it cannot be controlled programmatically; no, it's a grinning horse standing outside the walls of Troy with a grim secret hidden in its foul belly.

10,000,000 Windows lusers finally got a sliver of a clue and dumped Microsoft's IE and Outlook where they belong. They're off to far better and far safer online computing whilst Microsoft have done nothing, absolutely nothing, to improve and beef up their abysmal - and dangerous - products, and now they're demanding - yes it's extortion - that these same users who've finally been able to breathe easily after all these years suddenly do an about-face and return to the nerve wracking dangers they so gratefully escaped from?

Only Microsoft in their infinite arrogance and greed would ever come up with so demonic a scheme.

Desktop searches heighten the security and privacy bar in a way that cannot yet be fully appreciated. Smart users avoid these technologies for precisely this reason. Yet when looking twice at this hysterical market as it emerges, it's apparent that some companies are truly interested in developing technologies - whilst Microsoft will always be Microsoft.

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