17 March, 2005 at 16:19 Leave a comment

Google Updates Desktop: MSFT Will Take Note
(via John Battelle’s Searchbloghttp://battellemedia.com/archives/001305.php)

GoogdesktopI can’t write a full review here (I’m on a Mac…), but tonight Google takes the beta off its Google Destkop Search (this link is to my initial coverage, including a lot of ramblings on the implications).

Taking off Beta is no big deal, right?

Well, no. It’s a pretty big deal, because Google is adding a couple of things in release 1.0 which 1/make a lot of sense, and 2/will stir up a pot o’ press reaction, all of which will have some variant of this headline: “Google Plans End Run Around Microsoft.”
In short, the new version of Google Desktop will include APIs for any Windows application developer, letting anyone plug their application into GDS (ie, iTunes, chat, or…MSFT Office, for example). Developers can access these APIs to do two things – one, to make sure their documents are indexed by GDS, and appear as searched by GDS in any way they care to. And second, to plug Google search, all of Google search, into their apps.
In short, if you are Windows developer, you can now plug Google (yup, all of Google search, not just desktop) into your application. Isn’t integrated search what MSFT is promising with Longhorn? Why, yes it is. But that’s two years out. This is ready now.
So is this Google starting an all out war for the hearts and mind of Windows developers, and for the search habits of Windows users? Hell yes to the latter, but on the former, not yet, but it’s sure as hell interesting. When I asked Nikhil Bahtla, GDS product manager, about this, he used Wordperfect as an example. Nice choice. I doubt MSFT will be busy working on a Word or Office plugin any time soon.
But wait, there is more. The new GDS will also create a floating “search box” independent of any browser, which you can place anywhere you want on top of Windows. Hmmmm. This sounds very, er, post browser, very…Web 2.0. See my musings on how web-based apps are starting to do to Windows what Windows did to DOS here….and man, this sure feels a lot like a paving stone down that particular road.
Given all this, I had to ask the Googlers I spoke to about the Microsoft issue, and they, as usual, ducked the question, saying they were merely providing features that Google’s users were asking for. Certainly that’s true. But certainly, it’s also true that this release will cause no shortage of consternation up in Redmond.
Once you have APIs and desktop software like this, you need to create a major push to support developers. Will Google be doing this, I asked? No comment, at least not at this point. But expect it. It will be, of course, what “Google’s customers will be asking for.”
In any case, read more about the news here (only a ZDnet story now, but by Monday morning…). This is certainly getting interesting. Release in extended entry.

As always, the comments are quite interesting in their own right –

By: Brian at 03/07/2005 06:13 AM | Permalink

Watching Brin and Page dissect the Gates empire brick by brick. An exaggeration but it is taking that look. MSFT just takes the punches. Gates comes out with his boyish grin and seems to say “ah shucks”.
We are in an interesting age. Nice post John.

By: MikeM at 03/07/2005 07:02 AM | Permalink

Ad-free API is the bait. Give developers all they need. They would sure use them. Classic Microsoftie approach.

By: z at 03/07/2005 07:23 AM | Permalink

I just hope that future developers make that sort of integration an optional part of their future applications. I’m still wary about ANY desktop search for my own exceedingly paranoid reasons.

By: jr at 03/07/2005 07:55 AM | Permalink

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