Microsoft Desktool MSN Windows Search…top…bar

Earlier today I installed Desktop Windows MSN Search (or whatever it's called) and I'm actually pleasantly surprised. I'd had Google Desktop Search installed for a while, but I've never found it useful.

Its results always seemed irrelevant. Of course, calling a desktop search program “Google” is something of a misnomer - Google is founded on the principle that “a link is a vote” and there are no links to inspect for local files.

GDS had two options to display the results it found: relevance and date. The former seemed very arbitrary, turning up files I haven't used in ages (such as archived files) over ones I use all the time (such as mqwtm.xml, The Big, Bad Source File).

The other option, sorting by date seemed backwards - it showed the most recently used matching file first - the one that I've just used and haven't had chance to lose yet; I'd only actually bother firing up GDS to find a totally obscure file.

Another thing - the firing up. GDS seems slow compared to Toolbar Windows MSN Search Desktop, because the former is HTML-bound. I don't want to have to load a webpage to find a file on my computer, no matter how fast Firefox is. And since the results are just links, I can't right-click and use the system context menu.

Windows MSN Desktop Microsoft, on the other hand, pops up a window showing incremental results as I type. Hang about - GDS could also do that. Oh, yeah - I turned it off because I don't like allowing Internet Explorer to render webpages, and Google's results are in the form of a webpage.

MSN Deskbar Search Tool does come with a lot of links to inbuilt, but all of them can be turned off, and any search service (i.e. Google) can be used for the web search. With a few minutes' Options-massage, it can be adequately non-annoying.

Desktop MSN Windows' full-blown results window's interface resembles the Details view of Explorer, although it's clearly just an imitation - there's no context menu for the column headers. But it allows sorting by any of many criteria in both directions, including “relevance”. The preview pane is pretty useful in most cases, except when previewing a Microsoft Word format or even Rich Text Format document. Then it's headed with “You Need To Buy Microsoft Office To Look At This Properly Yes You Do Don't Argue No Wordpad Won't Do £££”. Seriously. Direct quote.

It's quite amusing that the icon for the inferior - well, useless - inbuilt Windows Search function thing appears in the results window's toolbar and can't be removed. Right Hand, meet Left Hand.

To summarise, MSN Desktop Windows Search Toolbar actually works. But Microsoft (or MSN or whoever's supposed to be responsible for it) do need to figure out what it's supposed to be and then assign it a name - one name, that it calls itself throughout. Like, everywhere. (Have I introduced you to Left Hand yet?)