Google Desktop finds maps

Google's plans for world domination show no signs of abating.This week, the search and software leviathan took let loose a new feature-rammed version

Google's plans for world domination show no signs of abating.

This week, the search and software leviathan took let loose a new feature-rammed version of its PC search software, Google Desktop. Previously, Desktop's only been available as a beta (test) version.

So, should you stop reading now and head straight over to Google to snatch the download? We think so - though we do have one big proviso, which we'll come to shortly.

The main thing that Desktop adds to a Windows computer is Google search for your hard drive, which covers everything from files, emails and Outlook contacts to instant messaging conversations and more. It's a bit like the Spotlight search on Mac OS X, but - in our experience - returns results in a clearer fashion.

Search, however, is just the tip of Desktop's iceberg. The other features include a sidebar with a notepad, to-do list, Gmail previews, RSS feeds, Google News clips, photos and - since this week - a mini version of Google Maps, the beautiful, draggable map service. You can also add an iTunes play/pause plug-in.

There is a catch to this slick piece of software, and it's the fact that it's very processsor-heavy. Even on a Media Centre PC running a flying Pentium P4 it tangibly slows down the whole operating system - apps open slower and mouse clicks take longer to register.

If you have a super-fast system and can stomach the speed hit, get downloading now. This is by far the best desktop search software for Windows PCs, even with stiff competition from Blinx and others.

You can get Google Desktop here.

Related stories:

Goodbye Gmail, hello Googlemail

Google's free phone calls