November 15, 2003

Google Deskbar

Google Deskbar is the latest little tool from Google. It's a self-contained searching program, which is very lightweight and fits snugly in a desktop screen (PR: "Google Deskbar enables you to search with Google from any application without lifting your fingers from the keyboard. Installs easily in your Windows taskbar.")

I was poking around at its innards in order to see if there was anything interesting inside. Internally, it seems to be a "microbrowser". That is, I think it hooks into Windows/Internet Explorer services in order to do a search, exactly as if you had typed it into the Internet Explorer browser. And then uses the Windows Operating System display routines to present the results.

On the one hand, that makes it heavily operating-system dependent in terms of code. On the other hand, it's extremely cheap in terms of development, a neat little hack.

The most socially interesting thing about it, is that given it's tying into Windows/Internet Explorer services, it appears to share the Google cookie with Internet Explorer, and use the Google cookie itself in all searching. That's not obvious, though it makes sense in retrospect.

It's actually a little strange, in terms coming full circle with applications, to realize it's a microbrowser. That is, the original web browsers were simple programs devoted to rendering simple code. Then the inevitable "creeping-featurism" took over ("2. More generally, the tendency for anything complicated to become even more complicated because people keep saying "Gee, it would be even better if it had this feature too"."). So the browser became a behemoth, of often not-quite-working plugins, handling sound and video and cascades of style bleats. It's now so bloated that writing a small and fast program to do one common operation and display the results quickly, is some sort of innovation. Somewhere there's a lesson in that.

Update: I should have mentioned Dave's Quick Search Taskbar Toolbar Deskbar, thanks to LISnews

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google , infothought | on November 15, 2003 11:56 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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