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Windows Live Toolbar

Another thing Windows Live has released is their new toolbar. It includes search, tabbed browsing (for Internet Explorer 6), and the Phishing Filter (again, for IE6). The 817 kb download also offers you multiple optional components during installation:

  • Feed Detector – 196 kb
  • Form Fill – 259 kb
  • Onfolio – 6.2 mb
  • Popup Blocker – 236 kb
  • Windows Live Local – 158 kb
  • Windows Live Toolbar for Microsoft Office Outlook – 227 kb
  • Highlight Viewer – 236 kb
  • MSN Extensions – 167 kb
  • MSN Games – 232 kb
  • MSN Money – 797 kb
  • Windows Desktop Search beta – 4.4 mb

I just went ahead and installed everything, even though some of this stuff seems meant for IE6. The RSS extension offers auto-discovery of feeds, and lets you subscribe with a single click.

Onfolio is a company Microsoft announced it was buying just yesterday, and its tool “provides a way to easily save, organize, and share all sorts of data you find on the Web, including links, entire Web pages, portions of pages, e-mails, and Microsoft Office documents”.

The tool includes a pane called Onfolio Sidebar that pops up along the left side of your browser and lets you build a library of nested folders where you can store all your data. To pull data into your library you simply click on the Capture button to save a link to the current Web page, the contents of the page, or a portion of the page. Or you can just drag and drop. As you capture items, you can also annotate them. Onfolio’s publishing feature lets you quickly share captured content via e-mail, presentations, and more.

If you use the MSN Search Toolbar with Windows Desktop Search, the Live Toolbar replaces that entirely. That is why Microsoft is now offering Windows Desktop Search as a stand-alone program. If you don’t want to lose it when you move to the new toolbar, make sure you select to install the extension. If you never liked installing a toolbar, you can get Windows Desktop Search from this page (via Bink), and install it all by its pretty self.

When you first run IE after installation, it asks you if you want to use Windows’ popup blocker or the toolbar’s, making sure you don’t have dueling blockers. It imports your whitelist, so you lose nothing if you want to give it a shot. The RSS feed autodiscovery lets you add feeds to Live.com while surfing the web.

The toolbar lets you search the web, site search, Live Local, Images, News, Feeds, with an additional menu for “look up word”, encyclopedia, shopping, Spaces, movies, music, stock quotes, yellow pages and white pages.

Other buttons on the toolbar display:

  • Stock quotes
  • let you start games (if you installed the extension)
  • highlight search terms on pages (extension), see a single snapshot of the entire page with the terms highlighted (the optional Highlight Viewer)
  • a dedicated button for Live Local, with an option to run the locator program (extension, again)
  • the RSS button, which lights up with a feed on page and uses the new universal RSS button
  • the popup blocker button with stats on the number of popups
  • an MSN Messenger / Windows Live Messenger button, that lets you sign in, add or view contacts, or send a page via Messenger
  • a Hotmail / Windows Live Mail button that lets you get to your inbox, contacts, calendar, send a page via email, send an email, or add contacts or appointments
  • a Spaces button that lets you blog something or go to your space
  • buttons for additional options, uninstallation, updates, and even one to repair the IE toolbar menu for you

You can also get weather conditions, and see the three day forecast with expected highs and lows. You can also go in the options menu and install a Windows Live Favorites add-in, so you can use Live Favorites with the toolbar.

All in all, its a very powerful toolbar, with a lot of features for IE6 users, and plenty of stuff for IE7 users as well. The Onfolio stuff seems cool, although I haven’t had enough time to look through it. My favorite thing is that a huge amount of the toolbar features are optional components, and if you don’t need them, you don’t install them. I wish I could do that with half the Google Toolbar features.

UPDATE: Wow, you can set the Live Toolbar to use Google search instead of Live Search. In fact, you can set it to use any search engine out there. In the preferences, go to the Web Search page, click Other Search Service, and, to use Google, enter http://www.google.com/search?q=$w. For other services, you should be able to figure out how to hack the URL. You lose none of the features of the toolbar, even the highlighting on the search results page. Very cool, for those who can’t resist Google Search.

March 9th, 2006 Posted by | General, Live, Windows | 2 comments



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2 Comments »

  1. Now, my question is…does this work with Vista? If so, how well I wonder?

    For example: When 5308 came out, I dutifully downloaded it from connect, and decided to run the upgrade on my laptop. I used Windows Desktop Search on here on a very extensive basis, and while the search in Vista is even better, it of course replaces WDS, and doesn’t even give you a toolbar in Outlook anymore. And frankly, sitting there keeping my damn start button open while I’m trying to search is kinda lame. So then I have to go to the search command in the start menu, etc etc.

    I just liked it better when I could type the term I’m looking for (in the approx. 10-20,000 emails WDS indexed for me, no kidding) in the outlook toolbar, and voila, up pops a window, and I can keep working in the meantime.

    So I wonder if the WL toolbar will do this for me. Hmmm.

    Comment by Rob M | March 10, 2006

  2. Rob, your best bet is to get Office 2007 alongside Vista. Then Outlook won’t need a dedicated desktop search toolbar, it’ll just feed off Vista’s search. It’ll search even faster than WDS does now, and your system won’t suffer any performance hit.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | March 10, 2006

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