Seesmic announced that it was working on a major Silverlight-based rewrite of its desktop clients for Windows and Mac. After almost a year of development, the company just launched the final version of Seesmic Desktop 2. While it was still possible to describe Seesmic Desktop as a social networking client until today, the new version clearly aims to be far more than that. Thanks to a new plugin architecture and marketplace, you can now also use the application to track breaking news on TechMeme, listen to music on Last.fm and browse your news feeds with the help of the Google Reader plugin. In essence, Seesmic Desktop is now a platform for all things real time.At last year's Microsoft PDC,
A Lot More Than Just Twitter
The new Seesmic Desktop - which went through a series of public beta tests - is a major update from the old version. As the company's founder and CEO Loic Le Meur told us earlier today, Twitter is still a major focus of the app - with native support for Twitter's streaming API, for example, and lots of Twitter-focused plugins in its library. You could also just use the app as a Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning or Formspring client, however, and never even touch Twitter at all.
At launch, the new Seesmic Marketplace will feature over 40 plugins. Over the last few months, the company's developer partners created plugins for a wide range of service, including ecommerce site Zappos, real-time search engines OneRiot and Topsy, as well as a Google Reader plugin and support for YouTube, Last.fm and Seesmic's own Ping.fm.
For now, all the plugins in the marketplace are available for free. Starting next year, Le Meur told us, Seesmic will also offer an e-commerce solution and allow developers to charge for their plugins.
Using Seesmic Desktop
We got a chance to test the final version Seesmic Desktop 2 ahead of today's launch. While the first beta versions had a number of quirks, this final version feels very polished and fast. Adding plugins is as easy as browsing the marketplace from your browser and hitting "install."
The only minor annoyance with installing plugins is that you have to restart the application before the plugins can be used. It is also a shame that the Twitter plugin does not show conversations, though it does offer virtually every other Twitter feature you would expect to find in a modern desktop client.
The layout of the app, with side tabs for 'searches,' 'userlists' and 'accounts' still harkens back to Seesmic Desktop's Twitter legacy. Once you install a lot of plugins, this static and Twitter-centric list of tabs quickly feels limiting. This won't be a problem for long, though, Le Meur told us, as the team is already working on a more flexible tab layout. Thanks to this, you will soon be able to keep all your news-related Twitter lists and plugins in one tab and all your personal Twitter lists and your Facebook stream in another, for example.
Overall, these are just minor issues. After using Seesmic for a while, the application's potential to become a major desktop hub for real-time services quickly becomes clear and hopefully, more developers will soon offer plugins for their services as well.