Microsoft unveils toolbar with PC search facility

Microsoft has launched a new version of its MSN Toolbar in the US. It has a built-in search facility that lets PC users find files on their own computers in the same way they can search the internet for information. A global roll-out is planned for next year.

The toolbar – the area at the top of the browser window where control buttons such as back, forward and refresh are usually found – has become hot property for internet companies. Increasingly, marketers are being offered the chance to create customised, branded versions that users download. For example, film distributor UIP has used branded toolbars in the online campaigns for the UK launches of films such as Thunderbirds and Shark Tales. But the rise of branded toolbars means companies such as MSN or Google are losing control of the toolbar, which enables them to direct internet users to their own sites or those belonging to advertisers.

The toolbar has therefore become the battleground for a power struggle, with companies adding extra functions to keep internet users loyal. Google has recently launched software for searching PCs, while Yahoo!, AOL and Ask Jeeves are all expected to add the function soon.

The search facility included in the new MSN Toolbar only allows users to look for files on their own PC, whereas the Google search software lets users also search pages they have recently visited on the Net. But MSN’s PC search lets users perform a keyword search in documents, e-mails, pictures and other files in various MSN programs, such as Outlook.

But however much functionality companies such as MSN and Google build into their toolbars, the use of branded toolbars is likely to grow. Indeed, one company, United Virtualities, has developed a technology – Ooqa Ooqa – that makes it easy to create branded toolbars and sell them as if they were advertising space (MW September 30). Ooqa Ooqa enables marketers to tailor the browser, for example by offering news feeds, music and video downloads or share-price information. Advertisers are also able to include data-capture mechanisms.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here