Our colleague Eric Savitz received an e-mail from AOL’s Netscape unit asking him to take a survey about a potential product it’s testing: desktop software that offers a browser-less way of accessing the Internet.
With this application, users would get instant access to the information they use most frequently on the Web, such as news headlines, weather, movie showtimes and map directions. A search box is always ready for a query, with no need to load a search Website, according to the e-mail from Netscape which also included a screenshot, shown on the right.
The survey queried respondents about Web-surfing habits and asked focus group-like questions about branding. Some possible names include the Navigator moniker and the acronym AIM (America Online Instant Messaging). We spoke with folks at Netscape, who indicated that there were no certain plans for the product, which isn’t even in a beta-test phase yet.
The prospect of the new desktop feature is timely, given that Google just launched its “deskbar” tool, a similar product aimed at making searching favorite sites easier and faster. What’s more, both products do an end run around using Microsoft’s ubiquitous Internet Explorer.