Lycos has unveiled its HotBot Desktop application allowing users to search the web and browser history, as well as their e-mail and files.
The free download works as an internet browser toolbar. In addition to searching the web, HotBot Desktop supports indexing and searching of Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail and files in Microsoft Office, PDF and most text-based formats.
The tool also includes an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) browser, which allows users to choose from hundreds of included RSS feeds, often used for distributing news content. Users can also add custom RSS feeds or subscriber-based feeds.
Combined desktop and web search is a unique offering as major search players such as Google have yet to introduce it, according to Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineWatch.com.
"I think that many people would like to search their own computer with as much ease as you can search the web," Sullivan said, "But major search players haven't offered it because searching PCs and the web is very different."
The search differences were made explicit when AltaVista rolled out a similar product in 1998 called AltaVista Discovery.
The product did not go over very well because in order to search users' computers it had to make a large index file of everything on the PC which took up time and hard drive space, said Sullivan.
These days, however, hard drives have more space and the fact that HotBot Desktop only indexes certain file formats cuts down on the indexing requirements, he added.
Lycos developed the new search tool in alliance with Argo Technology.
Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service