Everyone is in the desktop search game now, save for AOL. Yahoo officially launched Yahoo Desktop Search tonight, after announcing it in December. It’s powered by X1 Technologies, yet another search company to come out of the Idealab incubator in Pasadena. The initial beta release is essentially a Yahoo-branded version of X1’s current beta software. But Yahoo tells us the software will evolve over time to become more integrated with Yahoo’s vast online network, allowing users to search whatever content they have stored in the Yahoo “cloud.” So now, in the span of four months, we have desktop software from Google, Microsoft, Ask Jeeves and Yahoo. AOL is apparently readying a product from Copernic. And let’s not forget Blinkx, which just announced a Mac version to go with its Windows software. Pundits will argue that desktop search will be critical for driving users to each company’s ad-supported Web search engines, where the real money is made. We’ll be curious to see how much of a hunger there is for this type of software outside of the power-user/early-adopter group of computer users.

NOTE: It appears the Yahoo site is going up and down a bit tonight. Maybe related to the fact someone broke the news embargo.

NOTE2 (7:30 p.m.): Actually, it appears the desktop site may not be up at all. The URL above currently points to Yahoo’s toolbar page for now. Sorry for the confusion. The news embargo was to lift at 9 p.m. PST, so perhaps the desktop search page will appear then. No doubt, the Yahoo search blog will have all the info when the time comes. I’ll shut up now. Carry on.

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