Google intros Desktop Search 2

Search engine king, Google has introduced a new version of its Desktop Search tool. The new version combines the indexing features of the earlier version with a new sidebar offering instant access to a number of features, including instant access to Gmail files, news headlines, recently accessed web pages and, almost inevitably, the weather and share information – at least for the US.

Google intros Desktop Search 2

Google introduced its Desktop search tool in October of last year. The original version played to the company’s obvious strengths in search technology. Version 2 points the way Google wants to go with many more features normally associated with a ‘portal’.

The most striking feature of the new Desktop is the Sidebar on which Google supplies a range of constantly updated information sources. These include Gmail files, RSS and Atom news feeds via ‘web clips’ and a list of the most searched subjects currently on the web. There are also a number of features under the thanks-but-not-essential category, such as a slideshow of photos (either from the hard disk or Picasa) and a scratch pad for adding notes.

Intriguingly, Google says the features are all plug-ins working through a published API. Google will also be providing a plug-in library similar to the Extensions popular with Firefox users. Google of course, hired two Firefox developers earlier this year.

As with the earlier version, Desktop Search 2, performs a full index of the files on the local hard disk. The number of indexable file types has been increased a little to include MSN Messenger chats. It also indexes emails including data from Microsoft Outlook such as contact lists, appointments, tasks, notes and journal via a special toolbar.

Additionally, it brings Google’s own web mail service Gmail into the fold by enabling users to search their Gmail messages even when they’re not online by opening the mailbox and including the saved files. The Desktop Search also indexes Network drives. As with the previous version, files found on the local hard drive can be included in the standard Google search results.

Borrowing from its Enterprise Edition, Google says Desktop 2 now enables hard drive encryption for stronger security and faster search via advanced filtering options. However, encrypting the files will degrade performance.

The new desktop search is Windows only and is available at the Google web site.

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