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Yahoo! gives! away! free! desktop! search!

X1 due in January

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Yahoo! has licensed the X1 search software for Windows from tech incubator Idealab, in an attempt to compete both with Google's browser-based desktop search download, and the current leader Copernic.

X1 shares many of the attributes of its DOS-based predecessor, Lotus Magellan, which was written by Idealab's founder, Bill Gross. It is blindingly fast at both indexing and retrieval - which is near instant - and has the huge advantage over Google Desktop Search of being a native Windows client. It integrates into the desktop but perhaps more importantly, allows users to browse the returned search results much quicker than futzing around in a browser, and opening the original document.

Like dtSearch, it offers a list of words as you type, although Google has offered a limited version of this feature in beta for its main search engine. The disadvantage for Yahoo! is that it will be harder to port to Macintosh and Linux, but Yahoo! will probably be satisfied with keeping 97 per cent of desktop PCs users satisfied. (Mac users must wait for Tiger, the next release of Mac OS X, to take advantage of its integrated search engine.) X1 retrieves email stored in Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora and Navigator mail files. It doesn't, as yet, index your browser history, but as Google has discovered with GDS, this can be a double-edged sword.

Yahoo! recently acquired Stata Labs for its Bloomba email client and spam filter, SAproxy.

Financial terms of the X1 deal were not disclosed. The product will be called Yahoo! Desktop Search, and according to Jeff Weiner, head of search for the megaportal, will eventually extend to web searches too. Idealabs said it will now focus X1 on the business market. Ironically, the leader in business search, Autonomy, recently re-entered the free desktop search business after several years away. Only this time, without the bloodhound. ®

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