Google, Baidu release Chinese desktop search tools
Baidu, a Beijing-based search engine company, and U.S. counterpart Google Inc. have released new Chinese-language programs to search the labyrinthine hard drives of computers for users who accumulate so much data and cannot find those data themselves, a Baidu official and local media said Tuesday.
The free, downloadable service from Baidu can trawl personal computer hard drives for documents, art, MP3s and executable files with more depth than search functions that come with operating systems, said Cynthia He, a Baidu spokeswoman.
Baidu, which has 75 million page views daily, spent half a year to develop the software and three months testing it on the computers of some of its 300 employees. It was released Feb. 28.
"It especially helps people who are messy with their own computers, the white-collar worker who has more than tens of thousands of documents," He said. "We're in the search business, so anything to do with searching is our responsibility."
The Baidu service can track chat history, Web browsing history, PDF files and other files that pre-installed search engines cannot find as reliably, He said.
On Monday, Google's new Chinese-language desktop search service also became available, according to Chinese media.
Google came out with the same service in English in October for later versions of the Windows operating system. Google's Desktop Search indexes the contents of PCs so it can later find what users want in their e-mails, chat room records, image files and any kind of document.
"It's free, doesn't cost anything," said Nathan Midler, office head at Synovate Business Consulting in Beijing, anticipating that Chinese users will enjoy the service. "It's the next tool. It's something people will gradually use."
In June last year, Google bought a minority share in Baidu in a move to enter the China market. Google, while widely used in China, has no offices here.
Baidu's desktop search function probably uses Google technology as part of the contract, Midler said. But the company spokeswoman said Baidu developed the desktop engine itself and that it has nothing to do with Google's product.
As desktop search functions take off, Midler said, they could threaten Microsoft's services.