Google has released a test version of a Windows desktop search tool.

The imaginatively titled Google Desktop Search will let users search for information stored in their PC files, local e-mail inboxes, archived chat sessions and list of websites visited, the company said.

Considerable progress has been made in recent years in Internet search but finding information in users' desktop PCs remains a problem and is a priority by a number of big players, including Microsoft.

Google Desktop Search can be downloaded for free. The application searches for information stored in users' Outlook and Outlook Express e-mail applications from Microsoft, in Microsoft Office files, in the list of visited websites kept in Internet Explorer and across stored instant message chat sessions from AOL's AIM service.

It is also, naturally, integrated with the Google's search engine, so queries run through Google.com are also run simultaneously in a user's Google Desktop Search application. Results from Google Desktop Search are added to the Google.com results.

The desktop results aren't made available to Google.com without the user's permission, though, said Google. Just as well. Users can also configure Google Desktop Search to search certain files and not others.

The Desktop Search refreshes its index of local desktop files continuously, so that it can search e-mail messages seconds after they are received and files seconds after they are created, Google claimed.