Considering how important the information on your own computer is, it's always been a bit strange that you could find what you were looking for more easily if it were hidden on a website in Irkutsk than in a corner of the hard drive sitting right in front of you. Today, Google offers a first step toward fixing that anomaly with the beta introduction of Google Desktop Search, a free downloadable application for your PC.

Google Desktop Search will retrieve your email in Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express; files in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and text; your website history in Internet Explorer; and your instant message chats in AOL Instant Messenger. In other words, if you've seen it on your computer screen, Google Desktop Search can likely help you find it. Simply put, it's like a photographic memory for your computer.

Google Desktop Search is also fast, and it integrates with your online Google web searches. While searches the web for you, the Google Desktop Search client software retrieves your relevant local information, and adds it to your search results page. And it lets you view web pages you've seen, even if you're not online anymore. You can read all the details or just download and try it yourself. We do advise you to read the privacy policy, as Google Desktop Search is different from other search products, and you should understand exactly how it protects your personal information.

All in all, we believe this is a non-trivial advance in making information accessible. But you tell us. We'd love to hear your reactions, comments and suggestions.

-- Marissa Mayer
Director, Consumer Web Products