16 February 2006

Reviews of New Things Google

So, last week, Google came out with two new items: Desktop Version 3, and Google Talk embedded within Gmail. Google Desktop is nice, I installed the Calendar plugin, which is useful, not so much for scheduling -- it doesn't do that too well -- but if i need to look at a calendar quickly, it's handy. (I know you can double-click on the clock in Windows, but I'm always afraid I'm going to accidentally set my clock to the wrong day when I'm skipping around looking at the calendar.) So far, at least, Google Desktop Version 3 does not have the charming habit of crashing when I expand it to the sidebar and losing all my panel settings.
Google Talk is also nice. Unfortunately for Google, though, I think they are going to have a hard time converting people to it. Almost everyone I know uses AOL Instant Messenger (although a group of people here at the law school have started switching to Gtalk, at least as a secondary client). While with email, Google was able to get a following by having such a huge amount of storage, with Google Talk, that's not going to be so easy, because the only thing most people want to use chat for is, well, to chat. Maybe they want to transfer a file or two. AIM does all those things quite well, and, right now at least, GTalk is not anywhere as sophisticated as AIM (it doesn't transfer files for one thing). On the other hand, Gtalk is much smaller than AIM -- 900k vs. some huge amount for AOL Instant Messsenger. Plus, it's a slicker interface than AIM. Last, it embeds itself into your email when you sign onto Gmail on the web, so that, in a pinch, you can chat with someone even if you can't install programs/don't want to bother downloading AIM Express. Plus, Google Talk shows you precisely how much time you wasted chatting with someone online.

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