Google: Desktop 2 beta, $4B for implementing my idea
I tried out Google Desktop version 2 beta after getting home from a friend's birthday dinner late Sunday night: it has a high 'cool factor', but I might tire of the sidebar (that said, toggling between sidebar and taskbar placement is just a mouse click - so, you can get it out of sight quickly while working). Anyway, I think that having their own desktop fits in really well with their information management (and probably in the future knowledge management) business model.
With their new stock sale, Google has plenty of money for internal development and for purchasing tiny technology companies (mostly to get the people).
Like many people, I have an idea for how Google should spend their money :-)
I think that it would be very interesting (but a huge risk) to try writing a Windows/Linux replacement desktop that would act the same on both systems.
For Windows, they would provide a new shell (other people have done this) that would integrate file browsing, search, program launch, command shell (of course!!), FireFox based browsing, etc.
For Linux, the implementation would be a new Window Manager.
In addition to an expensive development effort, there are a few other large problems to be solved:
Microsoft would try to torpedo the Windows shell replacement - it would be very bad for their business model.
It would be difficult to support the multitude of Linux distributions
One approach for might be to have a Google Linux distribution, but that is really moving away from their information management business model. To make this work, their complete desktop replacement would have to work really well in corporate environments.