Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Spotlight vs. Desktop Search on Windows

When people compare OS X 10.4 Tiger to Windows XP, the conversation always heads to desktop search in Spotlight vs. 3rd party solutions on XP.

The 3rd party solutions that I have used on XP are: Google Desktop and MSN Toolbar with Desktop Search.

Both have the same fundamental flaw which Spotlight doesn’t share: there is a delay between file creation and the engines indexing the content. The Windows partisans will say it doesn’t matter that any of the desktop search tools for their platform have a delay, you won’t notice it.

But I noticed today in a few instances, and I sure wish that something on Windows had the inline indexing that Spotlight has.

First case, the size of my mailbox in Notes was starting to creep up, so I wanted to delete a whole bunch of crap. I used Google Desktop to find stuff I wanted to delete, and then I had to correlate that in Notes. Not too bad, but not as tight as Spotlight and I clean out this stuff, and then I went back into Google Desktop to see if I had missed any, and the index hadn’t updated, which struck me as wrong because I am used to Spotlight.

The next one was worse. I was working on a spreadsheet in Excel. I had received the original copy in email, so when I opened it, it was opened from one of the Notes download caches. I have no idea where that is. I didn’t realize this at the time, but when I did a Save As to rename it, I ended up saving the spreadsheet in the download location. When I closed the file and then went to email it to someone, I was confused that it wasn’t on my desktop and was fearful that I actually hadn’t saved. So I think Google Desktop will solve this problem, I really don’t care where the file is, only it didn’t because the index wasn’t updated. This is when I got angry and the Inner Exception was raised to blog this.

If desktop search on Vistows (I am auditioning Windows Vista nicknames) doesn’t index files when the file operations happen, it will suck and there will be no difference from what the 3rd party desktop searches provide now.