Google Graduates Desktop From Beta

Google announced yesterday that its Desktop 2 computer search software was out of beta with new sidebar panels, more customization and bolstered support for enterprise use.

The search leader, which made the release a day after Yahoo upgraded its own map service, said the new Google Desktop 2 would improve Google’s Personalized Maps and includes a growing collection of sidebar panels used to enhance maps and integrate Web pages and places.

Google — which stressed support for sidebar plug-in development, with JavaScript and VBScript support, samples and other developer tools — indicated the enterprise version of Google Desktop had also been tested, but some analysts questioned the search giant’s readiness for the business market.

“IT managers hate installing new stuff on the desktop,” IDC analyst Sue Feldman told TechNewsWorld, referring to potential security and server storage issues. “There are all kinds of reasons IT managers don’t want it.”

Sidebar Synergy

Nevertheless, Google stressed the personalization of its Desktop 2 — in regular and enterprise versions — which features personalized maps that display information related to visited Web pages.

Having endured criticism over the security and manageability of its desktop search for enterprise in past iterations of the software, Google stated that the latest business version of the search application was ready for use.

“Finally, it’s now easier to use Google Desktop at home and at work: we’ve tested the Enterprise version in a number of medium and large businesses to verify the administration, integration and security features that are important within business environments,” said Google software engineer Mihai Ionescu in a blog.

Search Pros and Cons

IDC’s Feldman, who praised the desktop update as “certainly cool stuff,” said while Google had taken some steps to address enterprise users’ concerns, Google Desktop 2 still raised some questions about the aggregation of queries on the Web.

“There’s a lot of time spent looking for information and managing it,” she said. “If it helps select stuff to pay attention to, that’s right on the mark of what people need in the enterprise. But there’s also a question of security, because this is the security, intellectual property, and business of the enterprise. If competitors can somehow find out what you’re working on, that’s a problem.”

What’s Good for Consumers

Basex CEO and chief analyst Jonathan Spira told TechNewsWorld that Google may be the undisputed king of Internet search, but when it comes to desktop search, the company is lacking some of the features that enterprises need.

For example, Spira indicated that the ability to impact results — to tell the difference between “Java” the programming language and “java” for coffee — was something Google’s desktop search would not permit.

“Everybody uses the same algorithm with Google,” he said, adding the updated desktop software is still impressive for public use. “That doesn’t necessarily cross over into meeting the needs of the enterprise user.”

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