Google parades new search goodies

It was the launch of the lamentably poor Google Page Maker that made us think the king of the web had lost its way. This Thursday, though, Google thre

It was the launch of the lamentably poor Google Page Maker that made us think the king of the web had lost its way.

This Thursday, though, Google threw a big press bash to reassure us that it’s still all about search, unleashing three new tools and hyping up a fourth.

The biggie is Google Desktop 4, which effectively brings Mac-like Dasboard Widgets to Windows by employing a bunch of new web toys called Google Gadgets. They range from various media players and news readers to the properly indispensable Google Calendar and London Underground ones, which splashess service updates straight to your desktop.

We reckon it’s still way too processor-hungry, but the Gadgets look good and it’s better integrated with Google/IG, the personalised homepage.

Second up is Google Co-Op, a kinda search plug-in that pulls in pages to your search results based on ‘communities’. For example, there’s a Digg.com one, which should pile in more tech stories to your results, but it made virtually no difference to what our searches turned up.

The third live offering is Google Trends (pictured above), which has taken the old Google Zeitgeist and spruced it up a bit. Stick any word in – we imaginatively plumped for iPod – and you’ll see when it was most searched for, and what cities searched for it most (London’s number four).

Next week also sees the arrival of Google Notebook, a clippings service similar to the one the Windows Live Toolbar.

These new offerings look intriguing, but they’re unlikely to see off a resurgent Windows Live Search, the Microsoft search engine that’s just been adopted by behemoths including Amazon and the BBC.