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MSN Desktop Search Toolbar Suite - What the web is thinking ?

My first thought - MSN Desktop Search doesn't work on Firefox, you need to dowload another 6 MB iFilter file from to support indexing PDF files, the desktop search is integrated with the toolbar - no stand alone app, it can index almost all the office file types, text, web pages and emails. So the gist is that I don't get any new feature from this tool that my existing Copernic or X1 or blinkX doesn't offer. So I better wait and watch for the next version.

If you are using a browser other than IE, you get this warning
Warning! Your browser does not meet the minimum system requirements. You are recommended to use the MSN Toolbar Suite with Internet Explorer 5.01 or later.

All the following comments have been picked from the blogs of some great minds on the web with due credits to the authors at the end of the post.

The last hour I’ve been playing with the new MSN Toolbar Suite Beta and I’m very impressed! I’m using Scoble’s Desktop Search Reviewer’s Guide to write down my first impressions. I've learned a lot by watching the videos over at Channel 9: highly recommended!

  • Index time: I cheated a little bit on this one, I choose the “Index Now” option and after a couple of minutes more than 12.000 files were indexed. Now I’m noticing that 5.000 files are left to index, so the Toolbar Suite has found some more files to index after an hour or so.
  • What can it do, and what can’t it do? Maybe this one is a little bit early to judge, but so far it finds everything as expected.
  • Performance degradation: The full index raised my processor usage to around 20%, and the Toolbar Suite process took about 14 MB of memory. Once the initial full index was done, the memory usage has dropped to around 2 MB which is very acceptable. I can’t notice any performance degradation while working, when the computer is idle and there’s some stuff that needs to be indexed, the indexing process starts again. But when you continue working, the indexing stops immediately. It seems that when you’re on battery power indexing is disabled as well, nice!
  • User interface: People who know probably know that I’m a smart client type-a-guy, so I’m very happy that MSN Toolbar Suite comes with a very nice GUI. The UI resembles the web interface of, but you get all the rich client features like: drag-and-drop, right click, context menus, responsive UI, … This is great!
  • Security/privacy: I haven’t looked into this one yet, but my guess is that the team did notmake the same mistakes as the Google Desktop Search team did in the beginning. IE history is not indexed, and the indexing is performed with a normal account (non-admin).
  • Does it play well with others? No idea, I didn’t like the Google approach (web interface) so I didn’t install it.
  • Does it work on other machines? I’ve tried it on my laptop and desktop, and on a couple of VPC’s, so far so good: no problems to report.
  • Advertising? Nope!
  • Integration: I think this one is (as always) one of the strong points of the Microsoft branded product. You get a nice integration with IE, Outlook and Windows. The only remark: when you search from within Outlook, a new window is opened. In my opinion showing the results inside Outlook would be more appropriate.
  • Price: the price is right, thank you Microsoft.
  • Download size: this one isn’t an issue for me, the download is around 5 MB.
  • File types: Of course all the office documents are indexed perfectly. I haven’t tried more exotic file types.
  • Search results: as I mentioned it finds everything as expected!
  • Customizable: the MSN Desktop Search comes with a fair amount of properties. I think “normal” users won’t get lost in them, and “power” users will be able to tweak the system.
  • Advanced features: so far I’m impressed but more on these one later on.
  • Space for the logo: you can’t seem to hide the MSN logo, but I don’t think that’s a problem. At least it doesn’t bother me.

    Here is what other great minds think about MSN Toolbar (Desktop Search)

    I'm impressed! My computer is still being indexed as I write and I'm watching the demo video and I'm very impressed. I loved the Google desktop search but it didn't allow you to interact with the files like the MSN desktop search does. Here are some of the features that I've picked up from the videos and from my quick use of it.
  • Launch web sites directly from the deskbar
  • Launch any app from the deskbar. Just type =[appname] e.g. =cmd for a command prompt
  • Create shortcuts and shortcuts with query terms
  • Transfer your shortcuts to other machines
  • Launch files from the desktop search results
  • Shell commands are integrated into the search results so that you can queue MP3's, unzip files, print emails, etc
  • Images returned in the results also have thumbnails (great feature!). Powerpoint files also come with a thumbnail but it's a little small to be of much use
  • Desktop search examines the ID tags of MP3s so that you can easily search by artist, album or title
  • Index network drives
  • Reply to emails that are returned in the result

Being the MSN geek I am I hightailed it to to try out the the new Toolbar suite. So far the only part that has held my interest is the MSN Toolbar for Outlook which looks like a decent replacement for LookOut. The desktop search doesn't really interest me because I don't lose files on my hard drive and the Internet Explorer toolbar adds just a tad bit of clutter to IE (see below for screenshot). I use the Yahoo! toolbar all the time since it has my bookmarks and links to a lot of Yahoo! services I use (Maps, Movies, Mail, Finance, etc). I use the Google toolbar for search. The MSN toolbar doesn't really give me anything I want enough to lose the screen real estate although the quick links to MSN Spaces are nice. If you haven't installed any of the other toolbars then the MSN toolbar is as good as any of he others since the core functionality is the same but it doesn't have enough to get someone like me who's already using two IE add-in toolbars to add a third.