Google Desktop Mimics Vista Sidebar

Google on Wednesday rolled out a beta version 5 of its Desktop product, which includes a desktop search, sidebar and Google Gadgets. It could be said that Google Desktop 5 has been "Vista-fied," with a new design that better blends into the background.

Other features in version 5 include a "Preview" feature in desktop search that enables users to quickly glance at documents without opening them fully. Security has also been bolstered such that Google will now warn users when they click on links from documents, e-mails or IM logs that may lead to a malicious Web site.

But the big change in the new beta is the sidebar, which, like in Windows Vista, holds mini-applications that perform tasks like stream news feeds or display the weather. Google has redesigned many of its gadgets so they are easier on the eyes and fit the look and feel established by Microsoft with Vista.

Moreover, the sidebar samples the background color of the user's desktop and fades in that color so it integrates seamlessly into the desktop. "More differentiated gadgets allow for faster scanning of information through the sidebar. And we've created a new dialog for adding gadgets so it's easier and faster than ever to find the right gadgets for you," added Google Desktop product manager Kevin Tom.

The "Add Gadgets" interface is activated by clicking the "+" button at the top of the sidebar, and displays gadgets by categories. Users can also search for available gadgets, rather than navigating to the Google Web site to do so.

The Google Desktop 5 Beta is available for download from FileForum.

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