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Reactions from the WSJ, Reuters, NY Times, and others:


The Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required)

Significantly, Sidebar, which is available starting today at Google's Web site, includes a text-editor function, which allows consumers to type and save text notes. That feature, and future Sidebar add-ins, could provide a starting point for an attack on Microsoft's Office software franchise, which includes the ubiquitous word-processing software, Microsoft Word. Another add-in to Sidebar allows users to track "to do" lists, a function included in Microsoft's Outlook software... To be sure, the Google Sidebar text-editor function is rudimentary... "It's no question that we're competing with Microsoft today -- and with a lot of other people," said Nikhil Bhatla, the product manager for Google desktop software.

Reuters

Yahoo offers its own "sidebar" within a user's browser, which manages music, photos and instant messenger conversations alongside whatever Web page Yahoo users are viewing. Yahoo recently acquired Konfabultator, which first popularised the modular programs it calls Widgets among Apple Macintosh computer users. Google's sidebar is similar.

Quick comment: No it's not! There's a world of strategic difference between a desktop application that side-steps the browser and a browser add-in.

NY Times
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"We're really trying to make this into a platform," said Nikhil Bhatla, product manager for Google Desktop. As with  Apple Computer's popular Dashboard feature, the idea is that it will be simple for programmers to extend the reach of Google Desktop by adding custom applications, known as live content panels... Google executives say they plan to unveil on Wednesday a "communications tool" that is potentially a clear step beyond the company's search-related business focus... While executives would not disclose what the new software tool might be, Google has long been expected to introduce an instant messaging service..

The Unofficial Google Weblog

This iteration further erases the difference between local content and network content, a dividing line already smeared by the original Google Desktop Search.

Source: Reactions to Google Sidebar (GOOG)