Desktop 2 may sideline Microsoft’s IE

Search engine leader Google has launched the second beta version of its desktop search tool, named Desktop 2. This includes web assistant features and as such has led some industry insiders to predict that it might affect usage of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  August 29, 2005

Search engine leader Google has launched the second beta version of its desktop search tool, named Desktop 2. This includes web assistant features and as such has led some industry insiders to predict that it might affect usage of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. Desktop 2 (beta) is free to download (from http://desktop.google.com), with Google claiming that the app changes the way users access information, whether this data is on the web or on their computers. Desktop 2 combines the desktop search functions offered by Google’s previous Desktop beta (#1) with a new, intelligent ‘Sidebar’ that learns a user's habits and interests, thereafter helping them receive all the information that might be of interest to them at one desktop location. "Think of it as a personal web assistant that learns about your habits and interests to identify and present web pages, news stories, and photos that it thinks you will be interested in," explained Google’s director of product management for consumer products, Marissa Mayer. Desktop 2’s Sidebar provides desktop access to a variety of personalised information such as e-mail, news, weather, photos, stocks and RSS and Atom news feeds. It appears as a small vertical window on the side of a user's screen and includes a series of ‘live’ content panels. Interestingly, this sidebar is personalised automatically based on the user's interests (i.e. the web sites they visit), meaning it requires little or no manual configuration. Also on offer is an ‘Outlook Toolbar’, that lets Outlook users search all of their Outlook e-mail directly from an embedded search box and results list, however it is Sidebar that has some in the industry to predict the software will compete directly with Microsoft’s IE browser. This is because Sidebar effectively pulls news stories, images, weather reports and stock quotes onto a user's computer without them needing to even open their browser. The first version of Google Desktop Search was launched in October last year, though research group Gartner – like some consumers - was unimpressed by this tool. The company even went as far as publishing a research note warning IT managers to discourage users from adopting the software, due to its not being business-ready or secure.

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