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Digital takes AltaVista to new heights

Digital will offer a personal version of its AltaVista search engine.

Digital Equipment wants to bring the same technology that helps Net users search the Web to desktop computers and local networks with a personal version of its AltaVista search engine.

AltaVista started off as a project that would showcase the speed of servers based on Digital's Alpha microprocessor. But the speed and thoroughness its indexes quickly made AltaVista one of the most popular search engines on the Web. Since Digital is one of the few sites that doesn't sell advertising on its search site, the company now thinks it's figured out a way to make money off the technology by selling a destop version.

On the way to that goal, the company today posted to its Web site a free preview version of AltaVista Search for 32-bit Windows. According to the company, the software can be used to build an index of every word of every HTML document stored on a hard drive, as well as documents stored in 140 other file types.

The search is conducted on local and shared network drives. Once the index locates a given file, the user can open the desired document from within the search software, rather than having to use another application. It will also allow users to search both a private intranet and the Web through the same window.

A full beta release scheduled for release this summer will add the ability to perform the same searches from within a Web browsers. The final version of the product is scheduled to ship by the end of the year, though the company has not yet announced pricing.

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