According to TechCrunch, the new Google Desktop will now store it’s desktop index on Google’s servers (if you opt to do so, and research shows that people will give out their SSN to total strangers).
This is exactly what I’ve been warning Google would do, although a lot quicker than I anticipated. It seems especially odd to do this during a press storm about Google and privacy.
Now, the feature itself doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It’s obvious why Google would want to mine your personal data and take it on their own servers without paying you (and charge you a toll to use it). It’s not obvious how this helps a user. Being able to search indices on multiple machines is nice; but that can be done by sending the queries to each machine. Being able to search index on a machine when the machine is turned off, seems rather useless.
But this is an opportunity to repeat the fundamental difference between Microsoft and Google philosophies. Microsoft philosophy for 20 years has been “information at your fingertips”. MSFT is all about pushing control to the edges, and enabling P2P scenarios. Google philosophy is “all the world’s information, stored on our servers, and charge a toll to get it back”. An edge-based, P2P scenario is superior technically, and the economics are better in the long run (except in the specific case of global metadata, which I explained in the whitepaper 5 years ago). But stuffing everything on central servers is an easier engineering problem right now, and this fact is enabling Google to make a massive land grab on the world’s information. Maybe it’s time to say, “no Mr. Google, the world’s information belongs to the world!”