Google Inc., the most-used Internet search engine, has introduced software that automatically displays Web content such as news and weather on users' computer screens, posing a threat to products from Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.
The Google program, a vertical sidebar that runs without forcing users to first open a Web browser such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer, also can search for files and start programs, said Nikhil Bhatla, a Google product manager.
Google's development of a sidebar that users can customize heightens competition with Yahoo, which offers similar features.
Mountain View, Calif.-based Google's sidebar challenges Microsoft, which is planning to build new search functions into the next version of the Windows operating system. "If there's anything Microsoft should take away from this, it's that they better move their plans along pretty quickly," Allen Weiner, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based analyst at Gartner Inc., said, reports Newsday.
According to PC Pro, Google says the features are all plug-ins working through a published API. Google will also be providing a plug-in library similar to the Extensions popular with Firefox users. Google of course, hired two Firefox developers earlier this year.
As with the earlier version, Desktop Search 2, performs a full index of the files on the local hard disk. The number of indexable file types has been increased a little to include MSN Messenger chats. It also indexes emails including data from Microsoft Outlook such as contact lists, appointments, tasks, notes and journal via a special toolbar.