Google revamps desktop search program

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 7:24 am

Google Inc. updated its software for searching PC hard drives and the Internet, giving the free program a new look and adding tools that deliver personalized information based on a user’s Web surfing habits.

Google Desktop 2, available Monday as a public beta test, is the company’s latest volley against Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. as all three race to expand their presence on PC desktops.

The latest Google offering includes several twists. Beyond providing search results, it monitors the user’s behavior and presents relevant information in a resizable and moveable vertical window called the Sidebar.

One module aggregates e-mail messages from a variety of accounts, including Google’s Gmail service or the user’s Internet provider. Others display stock prices, personalized news headlines, weather reports and what’s popular on the Web.

Another module pulls RSS feeds from Web sites that have been visited and offer that service. Unlike other feed aggregators, the user need not take any action for a feed to be added.

A photo module displays pictures from the local PC. It also pulls pictures from Web-based galleries that have been visited.

Some features, including personalized news, involve sending details of its users surfing habits back to Google. Bhatla said no personally identifying data is transmitted, and users can opt out.

Google Desktop 2 also offers the ability to encrypt - or scramble - the index to protect it from being read by unauthorized parties.

The software works on computers running Windows 2000 or Windows XP. Mac OS X is not supported.

Source: AP


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