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Wednesday, May 19, 2004Google, the Web search engine, is preparing to introduce a powerful file and text software search tool for locating information stored on personal computers,edging closer to a direct confrontation with MicrosoftAlthough Google's core business rests on huge farms of server computers that permit fast searching on the Internet, the company has already taken several steps to move beyond that business.Last year, Google began testing a free program called the Google Deskbar that makes it possible to search the Web by entering words and phrases in a small dialog box placed in the Windows desktop taskbar at the bottom of the computer screen.Google also sells a computer search system designed to index and retrieve information created and stored by a single organization.Internet searching is widely seen by industry executives as a powerful commercial service, but one that is difficult to defend. Google's strategy is to move quickly while Microsoft is still developing its Longhorn version of Windows, adding programs and services like its recently announced Gmail electronic mail program. The intent, say people who are aware of the company's strategy, is to lower its vulnerability to Microsoft by adding businesses that are "sticky" - in other words, businesses that create strong customer loyalty or are hard to switch away fromIt is widely presumed that Internet users who find a search service that is better than Google's will be willing to defect.Searches for information stored on a PC, however, could offer an advertising arena that is more readily defensible. Indeed, desktop searching might be particularly valuable for Google's commercial advertisers, which may be willing to pay dearly for the ability to place targeted ads in front of personal computer users.
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