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!