MSN Desktop Search Feedback

    December 15, 2004

Since Microsoft officially announced the availablity of the MSN Desktop Search their blog has received over 100 comments which includes some interesting and useful feedback.

The Beta release of MSN Toolbar Suite with Desktop Search is available for download here:

David Dawson, Group Program Manager for MSN Desktop Search describes the software …

“With Desktop Search you can quickly find files, emails or pictures on your computer. We hope you find it’s not just a fast way to search, it’s a better way to get your everyday tasks done.”

Here is a collection of the best comments (in my opinion) that people have posted in the MSN Search blog:

By Joe Sinkwitz
Seeing that the beta MSN is currently being integrated into the toolbar, the SEO community will be chomping at the bit to know: when can we expect MSN to dump Inktomi and go with its own search results?

By Joris
A great step ahead, though why offer an additional application for users to download and install while Microsoft could have fixed or improved the search functionality built into Windows with an OS update?

Also, now that I do have MSN Desktop Search, I’d like it if it did not require Internet Explorer. And how about indexing mail in Lotus Notes, Mozilla Thunderbird (Netscape Mail) or Eudora?

By Endymion Keats
I really like what you did with the stuff. The ability to create shortcuts is awesome! I love being able to search Google groups or lookup words in a dictionary with a single command.

I have one request…. PLEASE BRING BACK WEB CACHE SEARCHING. This is a favorite feature of Google. I will find myself using Google more often than not because of it. I love remembering I read something on the Internet and being able to search my web history. I understand the privacy concerns; maybe add it as a feature and leave it turned off by default.

By Nektar
Very good tool. Some issues:
The search results appear as numbers and I cannot read their actual names until I open them.
I want the ability to search in Internet favorites as well, and in IE history and in the IE cache. That would be great.

By Adam
It seemed to me that with the launch of this search engine, that MSN was trying to ditch some of its negative stigma… to put itself on the same playing field as google. The search engine is good.. and I’ve started using it more often. I make an association with good search engines and good companies (thanks in no small part to google)… so MSN has been benefiting frmo that association.

One of the major parts of google is: “don’t be evil”. They do a pretty good job of it… but when you’re microsoft, and you’re trying to get rid of some of that negative stigma you’ve accumlated over the years… you really have to try hard to be extra “not evil”.

Not supporting software non-MS software seems to be part of being an evil monopoly. Even though google’s desktop search doesn’t support Firefox (without some weird workarounds), MS should be working extra hard to make their desktop search work on as many possible platforms as possible (IE, Mozilla(s), Opera) and on multiple mail clients (Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, etc) and even on *gasp* other office suites.

By Michael Griffiths
I like the new MSN Search :-)

But, as one user said earlier, I would ADORE web caching added. It’s my main criticism of the MSN Desktop Search as of yet…
Also, do you have any plans to add a UI in a seperate program? That’s something I find awesome with the Copernic Desktop Search, as compared with Google or this. It makes it far, far, far easier to sort through results.

By Nektar
Some suggestions:
Incorporate the PDF plug-in instead of providing it as an extra download. That would be so much easier for all users.
Add the ability for parameterised keywords. For example, now you can define a keyword which will open a website automatically like @msn,
Add the ability to say like @msn, so that when the user type msn something the toolbar will expand it to
Parameterised keyword would be extremely useful in cases where a part of the website could be used for providing data, like in the search query string to a search engine.

By David Ma
So far I find both the MSN Desktop Search and Google’s equivalent to be inadequate. The MSN Desktop Search integrates far better with the OS than Google’s, where you can only launch the default associated operation to a file. It’s nice to have a desktop search tool that actually integrates a bit with the desktop (context menus, understanding the start menu, etc).

However, I’m somewhat surprised that the indexing service does not integrate further with the OS. Relying only on periodic indexing when far more timely information is available seems like an inferior stop gap solution to me. Then again, the product has reached open beta fairly quickly, so I suppose that’s a trade.

I’m a search agnostic. May the best
tools win.

The major frustrating parts of Google Desktop
Search that MSN Desktop Search solves are:

[1] ability to index ALL my drives

[2] ability to index ALL my text files, not just the ones whose names end in .txt

[3] ability to search for folder names

There are still, of course, plenty of items
that could, IMO, be optimized. One easy

[1] DS could very quickly index
all file and folder names, then go back and
index content. The win there would come
about because a large proportion of searches
are successfully solved once you’ve found
a named file or folder.

Competition is lovely. Kudos to the crews
at MS, and Google, to finally getting around
to this issue. My many hundreds of gigabytes
of data await thee.

By Ryan Walters
The “show conversations” feature is great, but I wish it worked when you use the Deskbar too. I find the results window that pops up when you use the toolbar in Outlook to show too much information to quickly glance through the results. And it always appears at the far right side of my second monitor instead of on my primary monitor where the deskbar is.

By John Burnett

-From what I can see, you can’t exclude Outlook folders from the indexer. I have a (large) collection of spam I’m using with SpamBayes for spam filter training, and I don’t want the indexer to bother indexing it or polluting my search results with it. This is especially bad since it looks like a lot of that spam has various virii, making my antivirus scanner go nuts as the indexer touches each of the e-mails.

-Same comment goes for file folders (I’d like to include/exclude specific folders).

-MSN’s web page highlight viewer feels clunky for me: 1. It redraws the current page when it’s turned on, sending you back to the top. 2. It requires a minimum of three clicks to skip to the first occurrence of your keyword (click to open viewer, wait for refresh, click keyword, then click next). Contrast this to google’s toolbar that simply makes the keywords into buttons on the toolbar for immediate access. No separate floater, no need to first select a keyword then a next/prev button, etc. This alone is making me stick to google toolbar. 3. Minor: the “Search Web” button is still text, even if I choose “Show Icons Only” to try and conserve space.

-The deskbar search can’t have the “search” button hidden. I’d like to hide it for the same reason I hide the “Go” button in IE: hitting “enter” does the same thing, is faster, and saves space. If I’m typing an address or search into these fields, my hands are already at the keyboard, so hitting enter is just plain faster, making the “search” button never used and just taking up valuable task bar real estate.

-Having an “MSN” logo with a bright white background in the blank search text field is a bit much… having the MSN logo to the left of the search field would be enough branding for me.

- and the page you first see after installing the toolbar look pretty bad when your Windows “window” color is set to non-white (mine is set to RGB 200,200,200, and the pages look unfinished because of this. Why aren’t their backgrounds explicitly set to white since it’s important for their visual style?

-I have XPsp2 installed… After MSNToolbar installation, I was given a choice to use either MSN’s popup blocker, or XP’s (or both). The help page I was directed to for more info didn’t explain the pro’s and con’s to either popup blocker, so I just arbitrarily chose to use XP’s. Was that the right call? I have no idea…

-Outlook search – I like it :). More or less better than Lookout, I think. Nitpick: if you choose a previous search from the search field dropdown, the search doesn’t immediately start – you have to then click in the search field and hit enter (or click the search button). Contrast this to how Lookout handles the dropdown picking, which seems a bit more intuitive/faster.

Overall, great first pass!

Rich Ord is the CEO of iEntry, Inc. which publishes over 200 websites and email newsletters.

Rich also publishes his blog WebProBlog which focuses on internet business and marketing trends.