AOL Tests Desktop Search

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America Online will have a desktop search capability in a new browser the company is now beta-testing, an AOL spokesperson says.

The spokeswoman declined to provide more details about the desktop searching features of the AOL browser, which is based on Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Generally, desktop search applications index the content of PC hard drives to make them searchable. Traditionally such tools have done a poor job, which is why a variety of companies, seeing an opportunity, are entering the space to try to bring the advances attained in recent years in Internet search to the desktop.

Tough Competition

Google unveiled a beta version of its desktop search tool last week, and both Yahoo and Microsoft are expected to come out with offerings in this space. Other players in desktop search include Blinkx, Copernic Technologies, and X1 Technologies.

Desktop searching is still in its early stages, and as such the leadership position is up for grabs, an analyst says.

Searching needs to be equally easy on the desktop and the Web, without the user necessarily knowing which they are searching, says Charlene Li, a Forrester Research analyst.

"There's still a long way to go, both for Web search and desktop search," she says.

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