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New Google Desktop: Speed is a feature, too

Google concentrates on better performance and less bloat for its software to search computers and house widgets.

Google has released its new version 5.8 of its Google Desktop software for Windows, with a focus on speed.

The software indexes a computer's files so users can search their machines and provides a mechanism to house small applications called widgets, but Google heard gripes that Google Desktop was too big and slow. "We heard the message loud and clear and decided that the Google Desktop 5.8 for Windows release would be based entirely on performance," Jói Sigurðsson, Google Desktop tech lead, said in a blog post Monday.

Google said it tested the code on many machines to find the bottlenecks and integrated feedback sent by an optional mechanism by which the software can send anonymous diagnostic information to Google.

Google unveiled the software as Google Desktop Search in 2004, shortly after going public. It expanded into the widget domain later, and Google continues to refine that ability. The new version of Google Desktop can detect which widgets are bogging the system down and offer the user the option to shut them down, for example. It also erects some security barriers between widgets and permits widgets that were built using Flash technology.