Google Inc. has announced Google Desktop 2 (beta), a free downloadable application that combines desktop search with an intelligent sidebar that learns the user's habits and interests.
"Google Desktop is a new, easier way to get information -- even without searching," said Marissa Mayer, director of product management for consumer products at Google. "You can 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."
Built on Google's desktop search technology the software include major new features, such as a Sidebar that provides desktop access to a variety of personalized information including email, news, weather, photos, stocks and RSS and Atom news feeds. Sidebar appears as a small vertical window on the side of a user's screen that includes a series of "live" content panels.
This new Sidebar is personalized automatically based on the user's interests as expressed by the websites they visit, requiring little to no manual configuration.
Additional features include a scratch pad to type and save notes and a quick view of recently or frequently visited websites.
With Quick Find users can search their hard drive to find files and launch applications. Using Quick Find, users can type a few letters or words and the top results pop up instantly. For example, a user can launch iTunes just by typing "itu" into the search box and selecting the application from the list of results.
And the Outlook Toolbar enables Microsoft Outlook users to search all of their Outlook email directly from an embedded search box and results list, without having to leave the application.
Additional enhancements include extended search capabilities for additional file types and content including MSN Messenger chats, network drives, Outlook data (contacts, appointments, tasks, notes and journal) and Gmail, enabling users to search their Gmail messages even when they're not online. Google Desktop 2 now enables hard drive encryption for stronger security and faster search via advanced filtering options.
In addition to the application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable developers to create plug-ins for desktop search, Google Desktop 2 now offers APIs that enable creation of new applications for Sidebar.
Google Desktop 2 is available in English, with additional language support to follow shortly. Currently available for Windows XP and Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 and above, Desktop 2 requires 500MB of disk space, a minimum of 256MB of RAM, and a 400MHz (or faster) Pentium processor is recommended.