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Google completes its Desktop with maps

Google completes its Desktop with maps

We've been testing the Google Desktop 2 beta for two months and have found it both handy and buggy. Today, the personal portal and search tool breaks out of its beta shell and joins the ranks of Google's final, free products. We liked that the beta version of this app places the files and Web pages you frequent within easy reach on your desktop, but we wished that it would wise up and display more relevant content. We'll soon review the intelligence of this release.

A customized Maps panel is the most visually enticing feature, as it displays satellite views of your location and that of Web sites you visit. Want more capabilities? The control is in your hands; Google's open API allows creative programmers to add a host of features to the Desktop sidebar. Available plug-ins let you connect to iTunes, lock your computer, view credit card transactions, track your Google Adsense account, search remote PCs, learn a new word a day, and more. Aiming to make plug-ins easier to add, Google released a software development kit.

Also new to download is the Google Desktop for Enterprise, a security-minded version of the tool. A partnership with IBM allows users of Desktop for Enterprise to browse messages within Lotus Notes.