Google Pack

So Google have announced the Google Pack, a bundle of software that Google provides free-of-charge for Windows PCs.

As a fan of Google, one the one hand I think this is a good thing – getting Firefox onto more PCs, for instance. However, I'm not keen on the idea of the cut-down version of Norton Antivirus, so I've excluded that from my download options – I'm going to switch my home laptop to AVG Antivirus Free Edition in the next week or so (although I'm a bit nervous about trying to remove Norton, I have heard horror stories). I was also interested that it includes Ad-Aware SE. I'd previously been an Ad-Aware user, but have recently switched to Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta… although I've not installed it on my home laptop just yet. Of course, Google couldn't possibly have included that, so Ad-Aware is a good alternative.

On the whole, running the Google Updater was a very pleasant experience. I didn't get prompted for a reboot, and it detected Adobe Reader, Google Earth and RealPlayer as already installed and updated them to newer versions for me. I also like the Screensaver, which in my opinion is nicer than the pictures screensaver that MS provides. The only irritation is that it does not allow you to include photos from network drives, so I can't use it at home with my entire photo collection – it lets you add the UNC location or mapped drive to the list of folders, but after you click OK it silently removes it again, which is a shame.

One comment on the Ars Technica article I linked above:

The apps included in Google Pack will supposedly be updated automatically, and Page trumpeted the fact that there's no nagware included – you won't be bugged for upgrades, and you won't have to worry about the programs in Google Pack changing your system settings without your approval.

… well, that depends on your view of what your system settings consist of. It did add RealPlayer and others to my Desktop, Adobe Reader Speed Launch to my Startup folder, and Picasa into the Run key in the registry (which in some ways is more evil, since you have to know to go looking in there). It also added itself to the Startup folder as well, of course – but I'll leave it there for now.

On the whole though – quite a nice new freebie. Worth a look.

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2 responses to “Google Pack

  1. Andy, just wondering why you’re just not using Linux on that home laptop, instead of having to go through hoops to protect it from Spyware & Sons ?

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  2. I know, I know… 🙂

    The simple answer is that WinXP was preinstalled and the laptop belongs to my wife, who needs Windows for some of her work software. I tend to use it for my digital imaging work, since RawShooter Premium doesn’t run on Linux (although I am thinking of trying to get it running under Wine).

    My home desktop and server are both Linux-only and are my machines of choice.

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