Google has released an upgrade of its original desktop search program, with enough new features that it’s essentially a different product. Here’s the page for downloading Google Desktop version 2.

The desktop search has been enhanced in nice but modest ways – better integration with Outlook, a little more flexibility in searches. I still prefer Yahoo Desktop Search, based on X1.

The more interesting addition is the Google Sidebar, a collection of panels intended to give you quick access to information on your hard drive and on the web. There’s quick access on the side of your screen to e-mail, news, a scratch pad, and a bunch of other stuff, all more or less customizable, with more to come. Here’s a picture of the Sidebar and an article about its features.

It’s hard to evaluate something like that because tastes differ so much. Personally, I hate things like that on my screen. It’s similar to the widgets that Yahoo and Apple introduced recently that look just swell in a magazine ad and strike me as completely useless in real life. Some folks thrive on them, I guess.

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