Fast Search develops search app for enterprise desktops

Fast Search will start shipping a desktop search tool for the enterprise market next week.

Fast Search & Transfer has developed an enterprise desktop search tool that retrieves data from users' PCs, as well as from internal servers and the public Web.

Fast Search will unveil and begin shipping the application on Tuesday at a price of US$25 per seat. Discounts apply on purchases of over 1,000 seats.

Fast Personal Search can be used on its own or in conjunction with server-based search platforms from Fast or other vendors. The ideal set-up is with the Fast Enterprise Search Platform, which lets users take advantage of all of its features, a spokesman said.

The application is designed to let employees fetch data from multiple sources with a single query.

Fast Personal Search also lets users act on files it retrieves. From within its search-results interface, the application lets users open, launch or print found files. It also offers a variety of ways to sort and cluster results.

The application comes with security and administration tools to help IT departments configure, deploy and manage it.

Fast Search is also making available a software development kit so that its partners can create services and products based on the new product.

Matt Brown, a Forrester Research analyst, liked the product's user interface and set of features for end users and IT managers. It's clear that the application will add value to companies that already have Fast Search's server platform, he said.

However, he questioned the decision to charge for the product. Considering that desktop search tools tend to be free, he wondered how willing companies will be to pay for it. "I haven't seen companies making huge investments specifically for desktop search," he said.

Google and Microsoft offer free enterprise desktop search tools. X1 Technologies recently joined them, making its enterprise desktop application, previously priced from US$74.95, available free. And Microsoft has aggressive plans to make enterprise search pervasive in its operating systems.

"Looking out five years, I'm not bullish that desktop search will live forever as a standalone category," Brown said.

In the meantime, beta tester Kevin Madden is excited about Fast Personal Search. He is chief executive officer of Clooster, a startup that makes software to improve the rendering and visualization of results from other desktop search tools.

His company has partly integrated its Clooster Desktop with the Fast product and found the process to be simple and straightforward, using the Fast software development kit.

Clooster is now completing the integration. "We're excited with its performance and features," Madden said.

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