I'll start with IE7. I originally installed it back when Beta 2 was out. I was not overly impressed at that time, mostly because there is a new toolbar at the top of the page that apparently can't be disabled. If you open a web page and start tabbing, you're going to hit this toolbar every time instead of getting directly to the links as you could in the past. When you open IE7, you are immediately placed into the address bar. I thought this was actually kind of nice because I didn't have to press Control-O before typing my address. I went back to IE6 mostly because I just wanted what I was used to. This week I installed the release candidate because i figured that it's just a matter of time before we're all going to have it anyway since Microsoft is making it a critical update once it's released. I don't particularly like it any better, but I've come to appreciate some of its features a bit more. If any of you have used Firefox, you've probably all ready worked a bit with the tabbed browsing. This is a concept that IE has adopted in V7. As nerdy as this is going to sound, here's how I'm using it.
I always set my start page to a blank page. I do this because when i go onto the web I want to bring up other things fast, and I don't want some large slow page getting in my way. So, when IE opens, I've got my blank page. In addition to this now though, I have a couple of other pages loading. I have my friends page come up for me, and a couple of other people who aren't on LJ. So, when I want to read any of these pages, I press Control-Shift-Q. It brings up a menu, I arrow down to one of my other tabs, press Enter, and I've got my other page. I could accomplish the same thing using my favorites, but this is actually faster. Supposedly it's fixed many of the security issues that exist in IE6, but I'm not even going to attempt to go there. So, I may not have to like this program, (and I really don't), but I think I can grow to respect it a little.
As for Google Desktop, this is one cool utility! I have a 160 gig hard drive, plus another 40 gig internal drive. Searching for things using the Windows search is slow, (and I don't want to use their indexing system), and I'm not convinced that it finds everything. I downloaded the Google Desktop program yesterday because it said that I could access my gmail messages directly from my desktop and I figured it'd be worth it for that if nothing else even though I use POP3 for Gmail anyway.
When I installed the program it said that it wanted to do a one-time index of my files. It said that it would only do it while my computer was idle. Okay, no problem. I keep this machine on pretty much all the time, and I was going to be gone for part of the day yesterday so i let it do it's thing. The indexing process does take several hours but from what I can tell at this point it's well worth it. As a test, I searched for a file that for whatever reason Windows couldn't find. Within about a second, I had a link to the file. The program uses a standard IE window to display results, and if you use Google at all you're not going to have any problems using this program. It searches emails, and all files, so if there's an old email that I know i've saved but can't remember who it came from, when it came, or the exact subject, I can still find it just by entering in a couple of words. I would definitely recommend this one. My concern too was that it would slow down my machine. So far I don't notice any performance problems either. I've had my issues with Google, but this is most definitely not one of them!