Thursday, January 27, 2005

Desktop search gains momentum

E-mail has become a most unwieldy tool. Much has been made about this in various blog postings, legal technology conferences and within the hallways of most law firms. Firms worry about e-mail retention and due to the popularity of e-mail, many firms find themselves exceeding Microsoft's long standing limit of 2GB per mailbox. More pressure is being put on lawyers to clean up their mailbox. But, part of the problem is that Outlook's built-in searching is very weak and makes it hard for lawyers to quickly find e-mails and then move them to folders outside of the Inbox, Sent/Deleted Items.

To address this glaring problem, Microsoft purchased a company called, Lookout Software, who built a really nice (free) plug-in for Outlook that makes searching a breeze. Most of us have heard of Google's desktop search product, you can download for free. In their salvo, Yahoo recently announced their partnership with X1, to provide a 'lite' version of their desktop search product for free.

Having evaluated all three, there is a real upside to these products and they will be greatly welcomed by your firm.
  • Lookout's newest version makes it easy to deploy in large environments and while it lacks some of the slick features of X1, if you're on a tight budget, this will be a huge leap forward for your users.
  • When I downloaded Google's product, it seemed very interested in wanting to 'monitor' my activity. While this feature could be disabled, I was weary of what Google's real intent was with their product. I uninstalled it after a couple days of using it.
  • I did not evaluate the Yahoo branded X1 product, but their full featured version which is not free, at $79/user (retail) but also had the most functionality. They have very innovative technology which instantly begins to return search results with every letter you type. The system also has hit-highlighting and a preview pane. In addition to full-text search, you can quickly search on e-mail fields. X1 also seems to be moving towards other enterprise products as well.

With the evergrowing amount of e-mail, these tools will certainly become a necessity. I recently traveled to another office without my laptop and when confronted with life sans my desktop search tool, I felt almost crippled and went through a brief period of withdrawals. It's probably the next-most addictive thing to the Blackberry!


8 comments:

jackvinson said...

And KM World's Steve Barth has written an overview of the Desktop Search world for knowledge workers in the February 2005 KM World: http://www.kmworld.com/publications/magazine/index.cfm?action=readarticle&Article_ID=1994&Publication_ID=128.

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