Google starts searching from the desktop

Internet search giant Google is looking to make inroads into the desktop with the rollout Thursday of its free Google Deskbar software, which allows Windows users to search the Web and applications without opening a browser.

The Deskbar appears as a small inset window on the Windows toolbar and lets users perform searches without leaving desktop tasks as long as the computer is connected to the Internet.

Keyboard shortcuts allow users to run queries, typing "Ctrl+Alt+G" to perform Google searches from applications, for example. There are also keyboard shortcuts for Google News, Images and the company's Froogle shopping comparison searches.

The Deskbar requires the Windows 98, ME, 2000 or XP operating systems and Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher to run.

The new tool is an experimental release from Google Labs and can be downloaded at http://toolbar.google.com/deskbar/. It could raise the stakes in the highly competitive search market as Google extends its reach onto the desktop. In fact, Microsoft said earlier this month that it is bolstering its own search service to compete with the likes of Google, Ask Jeeves and Yahoo.

Google is also working to shore up its offerings, as it is reportedly planning to go public early next year. Reports late last month speculated that the company could fetch US$15 billion to $25 billion in an initial public offering.

Feedback on the Deskbar posted on Google's user site has so far been positive. In a posting titled "Google is everywhere!" one user wrote "Google Deskbar ...Good Job!," adding, "Where will it be in the next step?"

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Scarlet Pruitt

IDG News Service
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