Google has improved its Google Desktop PC and Web search application by adding to it a panel that provides information from a variety of sources, the Mountain View, California, company announced Monday.
Google Desktop 2.0, which is in test, or beta, mode, includes a feature called Sidebar that gives users access to e-mail, news, weather, photos, stocks, and syndicated Web site feeds, according to a Google press release.
Another new feature in Google Desktop 2.0 is Quick Find, which lets a user search for files and applications by typing only part of a name, Google says.
Google Desktop 2.0 also features a toolbar for users of Microsoft's Outlook e-mail client, which lets them search their messages and review results from within Outlook, according to Google.
Google Desktop 2.0 also has extended searching and indexing capabilities. For example, it can index instant messaging chats from MSN Messenger, as well as other Outlook data beyond e-mail, such as contacts, appointments and tasks. It can also index e-mail from Google's Gmail Web mail service.
Google has also expanded the APIs (application programming interfaces) available for the application, so that developers can create plug-ins for Sidebar. Users can check Google's Web site to see a list of available Sidebar plug-ins, according to Google.
Google Desktop 2.0 is available now in English only although Google promises "additional language support to follow shortly." The application runs on Windows XP and Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 and above and can be downloaded for free.