Google vs. the Rest of the World

Everyone knows Google, don’t they. Nobody bothers to use any other web search engine, do they? Now Google are trying to get into other areas of the computer users consciousness by launching a webmail and desktop search service.

Taking a look at the desktop search first this is a downloaded install that starts by indexing all the files on your hard drive. Typically this is Microsoft Office documents, such as Word and Excel. The length of time that this indexing takes will vary depending on the number of documents on your machine.

Once the indexing is complete the searching is remarkably easy just double click on the icon in the system tray and a page opens that looks just like the Google home page. Enter your search terms, hit the search button and the results are back. Even better is that if you search from the Google home page or the Google toolbar and there are documents on your local machine that also match the search criteria then you will see a link at the top of the entries that says “xxx results stored on your computer” – very neat.

Google Desktop Search works very well and would be ideal for indexing documents at work. Unfortunately Google Desktop Search will not index across a network, nor is the interface available on any machine other than that which it has been installed on. This is a shame but understandable, however, Google needs to consider something between the Google Desktop Search and the appliances costing £19,000 as the gap is simply too wide for a SME.

GMail is probably the most sought after webmail account at present offering 1GB of storage and the possibility of searching all your emails using the same Google technology used elsewhere. These accounts are not generally available and are only handed out on a limited basis, so when I got the opportunity to sign up I jumped at the chance.

The interface is clean and uncluttered like all Google products and easy to use. It has some good features that make it more like a desktop email client than a web based one. For example contact matching as you type is useful. Also as you email any new contacts are stored automatically.

Of course the on page advertising also appears but it does not get in the way of the email – at least not on an 19″ monitor!

My one concern with GMail is the amount of junk mail that it has filtered after only a week. I currently have more entries in the Junk Mail folder than I have sent or received. So far I have not used the account except to send to a few friends so how I can be receiving junk mail now I can’t quite understand. I would hope that Google has not been selling the email addresses to anyone…