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Google Launches New Tools in Bid for Desktop Dominance

Google has introduced a new version of its desktop software that gives users the ability to find information on any PC and then share it with others.

Called Desktop 3, the application takes data residing on an individual’s PC and stores it on Google’s central computer for a limited time.

The search giant also announced that its recently introduced “Sidebar” system has been updated to allow users to more easily share notes, photos and other news.

Google vs. Goliath?

These two developments have reinforced the perception that Google is making a serious play for desktop dominance. That idea is not far-fetched — Google continues to develop OS-like functions that, taken as a whole, could eventually rival Windows. Also, it is one of the few companies able to take on Microsoft.

Even so, Google may never be able to topple Microsoft — if indeed that it is its goal.

“When you own a shopping mall and someone sets up a small business alongside of it, you still own the shopping mall,” Joe Wilcox, senior analyst at Jupiter Research, told TechNewsWorld.

Google has done a good job of co-opting the desktop with its toolbar products and desktop search, along with features such as Google talk, he acknowledged.

However, dethroning Microsoft would not be easy. “Once an individual or company makes an investment in Windows, buys the software, and continues to spend money on upgrades, it will not suddenly shift to Mac,” Wilcox noted.

Reasons to Stay

Rather, Google’s move to strengthen its Desktop application is likely an attempt to ensure that customers do not leave for other providers.

“It is a lot easier to switch to a new search engine than it is to move to an entirely new OS,” Wilcox commented. “The more products Google introduces, the less likely customers are to leave.”

Privacy Threats

Google’s latest offering may be less a threat to Microsoft than to the concept of online privacy.

In recent weeks, Google has come under fire for capitulating to China’s demands to censor search terms seen by users within its borders.

It has also revealed that the Department of Justice is seeking access to its search term data — a request it is currently fighting in court.

Google’s chances of suppressing the subpoena are difficult to gauge — it is not a slam dunk case.

As these developments illustrate, government entities are increasingly targeting information providers for data on their users. Once Google begins storing information from PCs on its servers, government interest is likely to become more intense — and subsequent legal moves are bound to get more assertive.

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