United States search giant Google hopes people want to find things on their computer hard disks in much the same way they find things on the internet: using its search technology. The company recently launched Google Desktop Search for Microsoft Windows 2000 and XP. Users can search for things on their systems just as easily as on the internet. The software must first index everything on a computer. The amount of time this takes - anywhere from five to 25 hours - depends on how much data is stored on the disk. Once done, however, there are some interesting results. Looking up Beijing will produce everything imaginable on the internet and hits from personal files and e-mail. But there are a few 'gotchas' with this technology. Google indexes and copies many personal files and will retain that data long after it is deleted. A word to the wise: be careful of using this programme if you have secrets. Another flaw or feature is the technology makes no distinction between users. If two people use the same machine but have separate logons, Google will simply index everything. A wayward husband engaged in hot online romance may find himself in deep trouble with the spouse. Google said the idea was to help individuals find information on their machines. It was never intended to be used by multiple users in an office environment. Fair enough, but you are warned. The desktop search ability has other potential problems. Even if you are aware of what you are doing, you are open to the data being stolen should anybody get into the machine. Do not forget, we are talking about the world's most easily compromised operating system - Microsoft Windows. The trade off is the one between a dysfunctional system that is relatively secure and one that is easy to navigate but open to hackers. You will have to make the choice. It remains to be seen how popular Google's desktop search utility will become. Google obviously did a great job with its internet search engine and is now trying to put a mini one on your desktop. Many will wonder why a company so famous for using Linux should bring Google Desktop Search out first on Windows. The answer probably is Windows users need it more than others. Google had said it may work on a Linux version but it was concentrating on the Windows version for now. There has been no mention of Apple's Macintosh.