Google Packs Apps to the Desktop

Google not only is distributing videos now, it’s
handing out software.

The Google Pack, announced on Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show,
offers a single control panel for installing ten software helper
applications.

“It’s a free collection of world-class, useful software put together in a
convenient installation manner,” said Sundar Pichai, a Google group product
manager.

The Google Pack, available now, is heavy on products from Google itself.
It includes the Google toolbar, Google desktop (which includes the Sidebar
and the deskbar), the Picasa photo management and sharing service, Google
Alert, Google Talk messaging, the Google Video Player, and a new Google Pack
screensaver that lets users turn photos stored on the hard drive into a
screensaver.

The software pack also includes the open-source Firefox browser, Adobe
Acrobat Reader 7.0, LavaSoft Adaware, Norton Antivirus, the Real Player, and
Trillium, an instant messaging application.

“With a few clicks, you can get about ten applications installed on your
computer, and we’ll help you keep them up to date,” Pichai said.

The service requires Google Updater, which Pichai described as a small
downloadable application. He said it’s a smart application that can scan the
computer’s hard drive and determine whether it contains the latest versions
of applications, only downloading what’s needed. There’s one user license
agreement and one console for all the applications.

Users can choose to override the default installation in order to choose
what to install.

Pichai said the pack is free and Google isn’t charging partners to have
their products included.

“This is strategic to us,” he said. “We have a lot of important products
that we’re interested in getting to as many users as we can.” Google plans
to continue to add more third-party application to the pack. Users will
receive automatic alerts when an upgrade is available or new software is
offered.

Getting branded applications onto users desktops has become a key
strategy
in the search engine wars. Google’s most recent desktop search
application, released
in August 2005, included Sidebar, which offered several customizable applets
and content feeds.

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