Desktop BBC News is a straightforward application which displays the latest BBC news headlines on your desktop.

The program opens with a small window displaying the current UK headlines. But you can choose to focus on a particular area of news - politics, entertainment, health and more - or opt to view world news from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East or America, and a new set of news stories will appear.

If you spot a story of interest, just click it and a pop-up window appears with a short (25 words or so) summary. If that's enough, close the window; if not, click "Read More" and Desktop BBC News 0.99 opens that page on the BBC site in its own internal IE-based browser. Either way, once you've viewed a story its headline is greyed out, helping you to focus on everything else.

By default the headlines will be refreshed every 5 minutes, but you can also click a "refresh" button on the viewer to update the program manually.

And Desktop BBC News also has plenty of useful configuration options to help you set it up to suit your needs. Much of this relates to the headline viewer - you can set its transparency, keep it on top of other windows, change colours and more - but there are also some surprising extras. We particularly liked the filters, which tell the program not to display some stories or highlight others, depending on whether they include the text strings you specify).

One issue with the program is that you can't minimise it, which is a little annoying. But otherwise it's a capable and easy-to-use tool.

Verdict

It really should be possible to minimise the program to the system tray, but even without that, the program is a convenient way to access the latest BBC news