At the CES Friday Keynote, Google co-founder Larry Page didn’t announce the Google PC or the Google OS as had been rumored this past week. Instead, he announced a new video download service with DRM and Google Pack. Since the new Google Video is not yet available (as of 1/7/2006 11:01:24 AM CST), I downloaded Google Pack to take a look at that offering.
Google Pack is a free collection of software from Google and other companies. The software in the Google Pack includes Google Earth, Google Toolbar for IE, Google Desktop, Picassa, Google Talk, Adobe Reader, Norton Anti-virus, Real Player, AdAware, Google Pack Screensaver, Firefox w/ Google Toolbar and a few minor other applications. This is only available for Windows XP at the moment but I am assuming MAC and Linux versions will not be far behind.
The install of Google Pack was pretty straight forward with the Google updater. Since I had almost all of the software already installed, Google Pack only updated the software packages that hadn’t gotten the most recent updates. Google Updater, which sits in your system tray and downloads and installs all of the software in the Google Pack, is pretty neat. You can use the Google Updater to monitor the status of your installation, run software that’s been installed, or uninstall software.
Most of the software included in the first edition of Google Pack seemed pretty obvious but the most interesting application missing was the Java Virtual Machine and Open Offier. Didn’t Google and Sun sign some agreement to include the Google Toolbar in every VM download and you would think Google would reciprocate and install Java 5.0 as part of the Google Pack. Google Pack is essentially a framework like Marimba to deploy software and so I am sure additional software will get added and be managed via the Google Updater.
My first impression of Google Pack is great – This is something useful and seems designed with simplicity and ease-of-use in mind. The user-interface is sparse and very intuitive and the update/download/install process is just great. No guesswork needed. Even my mom can install this and keep her software up to date and that’s a good thing. It was great to see Norton Antivirus and AdAware spyware removal tools included in this pack. Is this inclusion meant to compete with Microsoft and their latest virus and spyware offerings, Windows Live Safety Center? Sounds like a shot across Steve Ballmer’s bow – Get your chairs out of the way.
Google, CES, Google+Pack, Google+video, Microsoft, live.com, ideas.live.com, spyware, anti-virus, java, Sun, google+toolbar, DRM, scoble
Interesting. Although I am a Mac user and cannot use this new application, I am always surprised with Google’s new ways to pull the carpet under Microsoft’s feet.
I don’t agree about seeing a version for the Mac or Linux, though – Since there aren’t any for Google Earth, Google Talk and Picasa, and Firefox is not the browser of choice for Mac users (IMHO, Camino and Safari provide a better, Mac-like experience) nor is Norton actually needed for the Mac, what would they “pack”? 🙂
So, it’s just a bunch of marginally useful software that you can download for free anyway? What’s the big deal?
Hi Matt. To me, the big advantage is the auto-update feature — As new updates are made to the products, go ahead and download/install them. Besides Windows update, most other updates programs sucks. Have you wanted to kick some at Macromedia or Adobe for their stupid system tray utilities that keep popping up every day asking you to update Shockwave or Flash or Acrobat Reader or some stupid plug-in you installed like Reader?? Those interfaces are just so ugly and they pop-up and annoy you. Google Pack, at first glance doesn’t seem anything like that.
The value for me is giving this to someone like my parents and having virus, spyware, browsers automatically updated while Windows Update handles the automated OS patches and upgrades.
And I have to disagree about the marginally useful software comment – specially for Firefox 🙂 The rest is iffy-at-best. 🙂
What about PRIVACY?
I’d love to see Google pushing for the public availability of privacy tools.
This would help vanishing the thick black clouds of concern about one big company having too much control about our information.
I certainly would worry about anything that automatically updates because if they can get in this way to my computer, well so can the “evil do’ers” or some of those ultra-brilliant hackers out there. So, no thanks for me, but it sounds interesting. I thought Google was going to have something really much bigger to announce this time around. Well, I guess it is better to wait if what they have comming out is not that great, yet. I wonder when they will get all the bugs out of these other things they are doing and announce those? Hopefully before Hurricane Season starts up again, as it appears all we keeping hearing is hot air. Not that I want to take the wind out of anyone’s sails as their stock is sure flying up up and away like a beautiful balloon.
I find it a bit ironic that AdAware which flags tracking toolbars is bundled with the google toolbar which if page rank is on is in itself a tracking toolbar. Plus last time I checked AdAware did not flag the google toolbar, so I guess it’s not so much Ironic, as a conflict of interests.