My Thoughts on GDS 2 Beta, & a Web OS

Having been playing and thinking about the new Google Desktop Search, and specifically its new sidebar form, I have the following few thoughts.

Firstly, like all Google innovations, it’s US only at the moment, content wise. This means that the news and weather info is restricted to the States, which is useless for the rest of us. Plus, the News items which appear are of dubious relevancy to me. I guess this will improve over time, but it would be nice to be able to select specific areas of interest from the outset.

The webclips idea is nice, but I would prefer to see it working as it does on the Google Portal rather than along the small scale Gmail lines. I guess space is an issue here, but the tiny previews are of limited use – plus links don’t seem to work and images aren’t loaded.

In terms of size, though, in many ways I would like the sidebar to be a lot bigger. In fact, make it the size of the whole screen and call it Google Desktop, or even Google OS. Launching apps by typing in (part of) the name is brilliant, so much quicker than mucking about with Start menus, or having to manage the contents of an ever-expanding quick launch toolbar. On a full screen version, you shouldn’t even have to click into the little box to type in what you want. You should be able to just type, hit return and have the application appear in front of you. A little like Jeff Raskin‘s Archy.

It could be made even easier to use, so that you wouldn’t need to know the name of the program you want. Say your installed word processor is Writer. You could type ‘letter’ and it loads up your word processor, as the word letter is tagged to the word processor. If you have more than one installed, it could offer a choice. Likewise, ’email’ would offer up Thunderbird, or Outlook and ‘web’ a whole host of browsers and other apps. ‘Chat’ would call up IM and IRC clients that the user has installed. All the talk, of course, is that Google are going to release their own IM client tomorrow. A system like this would retain the speed of a command line with ease-of-use.

With a full-screen to play with, much more information could be displayed – somewhat akin to the current Google Portal, but with local information displayed too.

Going through my RSS feeds on FeedDemon, I notice Jason Kottke has written with far more authority about a similar idea here. More intriguing thoughts on this issue are reported by Microsoft Monitor.