Google has improved the security and search features of its Mini search device, a hardware box with Google software aimed at small and midsize companies and at departments within large organizations.In its 2.2 version, slated for release on Tuesday, the Mini will gain some features already present in the company\u2019s Search Appliance, a similar product that is more sophisticated and powerful and designed for large organizations, said Kevin Gough, a Google enterprise product manager.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nGoogle ScreenshotIndustry observers have been waiting for Google to give the Mini a boost, as a reaction to a serious challenger the product got in December when IBM and Yahoo launched a free, entry-level enterprise search application. That competing product, called IBM OmniFind Yahoo Edition, can index up to 500,000 documents. The Mini starts at US$1,995 for 50,000 documents and tops out at 300,000 documents in its $8,995 edition.In terms of security, the Mini will for the first time recognize access settings for users and documents that an administrator has pre-established in Windows\u2019 NT LAN Manager authentication protocol and Active Directory. The Mini has also gained the ability to apply access settings and authentication requirements defined by administrators in lightweight directory access protocol directories and in HTTP Basic schemes for online transactions.Meanwhile, a major search improvement is the OneBox feature, which lets the engine identify the intent of certain queries and compile and present a digest of data at the top of the search results list that may answer the user\u2019s questions, saving them from having to click on search results. OneBox can be configured to compile human resources data, sales transaction details, and employee contact and calendar information, for example.The upgraded Mini now integrates with Google\u2019s hosted Analytics service that tracks and logs website usage. In particular, the Mini integration will enhance and enrich the data Analytics gathers related to users\u2019 search activities.In a similar fashion, the Mini has been linked with Google\u2019s Sitemaps service, which lets webmasters put a file on their sites that tells Google\u2019s automated Web crawler the proper way to index their sites\u2019 webpages. The Mini 2.2 gives administrators the option of creating or improving their websites\u2019 sitemaps.Finally, the Mini has gained the ability to limit search queries based on ranges of numbers, such as dates or prices.While the security features are a must-have in corporate search tools, and thus a catch-up move for the Mini, the integration with Google Analytics gives it an edge over competing products, said Guy Creese, an analyst with Burton Group. Companies of all sizes are eager to improve their understanding of what their clients do on their websites, and gaining a better insight into clients\u2019 search activities is extremely valuable, he said. The language in search queries provides more concrete clues about a client\u2019s intentions and desires than the recording of the client\u2019s mouse clicks on the site, Creese said.-Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service (Miami Bureau)Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.