Microsoft opens desktop search

Company quietly releases documentation to extend its desktop search tool beyond the browser.

Enlisting developers to help combat Google's search dominance, Microsoft has quietly released documentation to extend its desktop search tool beyond the browser.

Microsoft has published application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow programmers to display the results of a desktop search in their choice of programs.

The APIs, which were released earlier this week, are still in beta testing.

Microsoft's MSN division released Windows Desktop Search in May, a few months after Google launched its own, called Google Desktop. Windows Desktop Search already has a few features for customizing searches, such as the ability to speed up search results by creating indexes.

Google, too, has its own API and software developer kit that lets people link Google Desktop to different applications.

Microsoft scaled back some of its ambitions for search in Longhorn, the next desktop edition of Windows due out next year. But the company still intends to substantially improve the search capabilities of Windows. For example, search results in Longhorn can be saved as virtual folders that are automatically updated to include all items that fit a particular query.

Once these search capabilities are baked into Longhorn, Microsoft is expected to make APIs available to developers to build customized searches.

Apple Computer, meanwhile, already has an API available to allow developers to write plug-ins for the Spotlight search feature in Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

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