Google took a step closer on Thursday to being able to search everything: its desktop search application is now available in 29 languages, including Hindi, the company announced.

How to say ‘Search’ in 29 languages

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Google Inc. took a step closer on Thursday to being able to search everything: its desktop search application is now available in 29 languages, including Hindi, the company announced.

Seven weeks after launching the English-language version of Google Desktop 5, the company localized the software in 29 languages, including French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, Russian – and Hindi, the first time a version of the application has been offered in that language.

Google Desktop 5 is an application for Windows Vista, XP or 2000 that, once installed on a PC, can be used to search the hard disk for documents using an interface similar to that of Google’s Internet search engine.

Like its Internet counterpart, it can be used to preview the contents of documents without having to launch the application used to create them. Version 5 also includes updated “gadgets,” small applications that can display new email, weather forecasts, diary entries or a to-do list.

The company faces renewed competition on the desktop since Microsoft Corp.’s introduction of new desktop search functionality in Vista, its latest Windows upgrade. Microsoft also offers desktop search for Windows XP as a free download.

With Version 5, Google tried to play on users’ fears about the security of Microsoft’s browser and OS, introducing an early warning system designed to protect users from phishing attempts and Web sites harbouring malicious code.

Google Desktop was itself the subject of two warnings by security researchers in February. However, Google software engineer Xiyuan Xia gave no indication in his posting to the official Google Desktop blog on Thursday whether the new localized versions patch all the reported flaws.

Google also released a version of the desktop search application for Apple Inc.’s Mac OS X operating system three weeks ago.

Google Desktop for Mac joins a scant few Google software applications for the Mac OS. Other Mac-compatible programs are Google Earth, Google Toolbar, Google SketchUp, Picasa Web Albums Uploader, and Google Notifier. Compare that to what’s available for the Windows OS and that is sad commentary on Google’s commitment for the Mac OS.

Google has long favoured Windows users. For example, the popular Windows-only Google Pack Beta alone bundles seven Google software applications. Only four of Google Pack Beta applications, by contrast, are available on the Mac OS.

Taking a look at Google’s long list of excellent digital tools I notice most of Google’s product offerings are available as Web services – available through any browser no matter the OS. In the long run I hope that remains the case. Someday, I predict, many of the software applications that Google offers will morph into Web services. Adobe and other companies are moving applications to Web. Adobe plans to make a basic version of its flagship image editing software, Photoshop, available as a free, Web-based application later this year. (It was previewed in a public beta at the photo-sharing site Photobucket).

Photoshop’s Web version won’t be as full-featured as the desktop application, but it won’t require the Windows or Mac OS either.

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