Google Pack Offers 1-Stop Downloading Of Software

Information on Google Pack already went live briefly on Google earlier today, but now the software bundling and updating system has been formally announced. It pulls together popular Google software applications along with those from other providers. An overview of the package is below, and a longer version of this post for Search Engine Watch members goes into more depth from Google about how products were selected, whether others might come and some of the business reasons for doing the pack.

The genesis for the pack, said Google vice president of search products and user experience Marissa Mayer, was the frustration of Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin having to track down and register software for computers they were setting up a year ago.

"They spent all afternoon setting them up. Hundreds of clicks and license agreements later, they had it the way they wanted," Mayer said.

OK, skip past the idea that the duo should just be able to snap their fingers and have someone configure their computers for them. I can understand the frustration. I've had to bring up three computers from a "clean" state this year and have my own list of essential tools and software that I always have to put on. So the idea of a magical way for Google to do this for me? Nice!

Does it work? I haven't had a chance to actually test it yet, since I was briefed about the system earlier this week, before the software was live. However, I've got a newly repaired laptop that I'm going to give it a go on in a few days.

One downside is that you can't add software not already on the Google Pack list. I despise Norton AntiVirus after being a long-time user who tired of its bugginess. But that's the antivirus package of choice in what Google is offering.

Of course, you don't have to choose to install any particular component. Google's just giving you a menu, and ala carte is fine. Here's what's on the table:

  • Adobe Reader 7
  • Ad-Aware SE Personal
  • GalleryPlayer HD Images
  • Google Desktop
  • Google Earth
  • Google Pack Screensaver
  • Google Picasa Photo Organizer/Editor
  • Google Talk
  • Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer
  • Google Video player
  • Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar
  • Norton AntiVirus 2005 Special Edition
  • RealPlayer
  • Trillian

Google says all of the programs were added because they are considered "best of class" and that no payments for inclusion were involved.

Two programs from Google are new. The Google Video Player is described more here. The Google Pack Screensaver lets you use existing photos on your computer as a screensaver, something Google says they've seen demand for.

One downside to the new Google Pack. It doesn't remember your preferences. If you set up a suite of software on your computer, then need to bring up an entirely new computer, there's no way to save a profile of the programs you like. Hopefully, something like that will come in the future.

Looking for the official word? See the Google press release here

Want to comment or discuss? Visit our SEW Forums thread, Google Pack Live.

Postscript from Gary: This is not the first time we've seen Google bundle their own software and make it available from other providers. Three examples come quickly to mind. First, a recent deal to include several pieces of software on Lexar Flash Drives. We've also posted about Google software being distributed with WinZip and InterVideo's DVD duplication software.

Postscript from Danny: Paul Thurrott has a nice recap of the downloading tool in action in this review.