Now that Google has announced plans to discontinue iGoogle, Jim Pierce asked me to suggest an alternative.

I recommend NetVibes, even it can be a little intimidating at first. It asks you to pick or type a subject, and then it overloads you with four or five tabs filled with a great many widgets. But there's an easy if not obvious way to skip all that and built your own modest or ambitious home page.

But I should point out that tabs are one of NetVibes' best features. You can create tabs based on topics (Tech, Entertainment, and so on), types of information (news feeds, videos), or any other way that you can think of. When you search Google from NetVibes, the results appear in a new tab.

So here's my recommended way to get started in NetVibes:

First, go to the site and click the big green Get started button.

On the next page, click Go basic for the free version (you don't need to spend $499 a month for the premium version).

In the resulting "Create a new dashboard" dialog box, click the first icon on the left, Default.

This produces a desktop with one tab, called General, filled with assorted widgets. If you had selected another option, or typed in a topic yourself, it would have created four or five tabs-- all filled with widgets. I'm assuming you want to create your own tabs and widgets, and it's easier to delete one tab than five.

But NetVibes won't let you delete the only tab you've got, so you must create your own tab before you can delete the one NetVibes created for you. Click New Tab, and in the resulting pop-up bar, click Or create an empty tab. Name it anything you like.

Once you have that tab, you can remove the NetVibes-created one. Click the tiny down arrow on the tab, then the Delete this tab button on the extreme right.

Now you can fill up that empty tab. Click the Add content button in the upper-left corner of the window, and you'll find plenty of options.

I had no trouble recreating a facsimile of my iGoogle page.

But if, after a while, you want to add some of those pre-created multi-tabbed topics, just click the Dashboard pull-down menu at the top of the window.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at [email protected], or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter, or subscribe to the Answer Line newsletter, e-mailed weekly.