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Browse all the latest headlines with Desktop BBC News

13 March 2013, Mike Williams

Monitoring the latest BBC news from your Windows desktop used to be very easy: just install the official News Desktop Alert and Ticker and it would keep you up-to-date. The move to smartphones and tablets meant the service was closed a couple of years ago, though, which left your desktop options a little limited.

Unless, that is, you install the (strictly unofficial) Desktop BBC News.

The program launches with a small window listing the current UK news headlines. You can change this to display the BBC’s world news, though, or stories from various parts of the site: “Health”, “Politics”, “Science” and so on.

Click any headline of interest and a very brief summary (maybe 25 words) pops up. And if you click the “Read more” link in that window then the relevant BBC news page opens in the program’s internal browser.

Any headlines you click are then greyed out, which makes it easy to spot the stories you haven’t read. And Desktop BBC News refreshes its headlines every five minutes, to keep you up-to-date.

Clicking any headline displays a brief summary of the story

This is all useful enough, but what really makes the program interesting is its extreme configurability. There’s just so much that can be changed: the window position (always on top, pinned, normal), transparency level , headings, colours, the browser to use, the refresh time, how to display stories you’ve read, and more.

Desktop BBC News does also have some annoyances. Launch it, for instance, and you’ll see a message asking if it can connect to BBC.co.uk and download the latest headlines. At first we were impressed by its politeness, but when we realised this message would be displayed every time it launched – and there was no “don’t display again” checkbox – it became a little more annoying.

And for some reason the developer has apparently decided that the program doesn’t need a minimise button. Yes, we know it’s meant to be displayed on the desktop, most of the time, but it would still be useful to move it to the system tray, just occasionally.

These issues aside, though, Desktop BBC News is a compact, capable and configurable tool, and an easy way to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest news.

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