The Google Starter Pack Explained

As Google shares hover near record highs, it’s easy to see that Google is clearly on the move. While share prices are high, for the average computer user, Google remains free. In fact, Google announced their free software starter pack on Friday, January 6th at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The suite of programs is designed to make the computing experience easier for users.

Google executives asked themselves how they could make using a computer easier, more fun and empowering. With that in mind, the Google Pack was born.

The only thing that’s actually new in this bundle of software is a screensaver that automatically displays a PC’s photos. Most of the other programs are readily available for free on the internet. The Google Pack simply offers a one stop spot for obtaining them. The suite claims to be essential, simple, customizable and up-to-date. Google says its products are safe, useful and easy to install. In addition, you can pick and choose the software you want and get updates through their Google Updater.

The pack includes an anti-virus program (6 month trial version), a web browser, an anti-spyware utility, a PDF reader, a media player, a gallery player, an instant messenger, a screensaver, a photo editor, Google Earth, Google Desktop, Google Toolbar and Google Talk. The download page allows for adding and removing the desired downloads. Let’s take a quick look at each program.

Norton Antivirus 2005 Special Edition comes with a six month subscription to protection updates. Updates download automatically to protect against new threats. 21.9MB

Mozilla Firefox is a web browser that offers protection against viruses, spyware and pop-up ads. It delivers fast web pages, tabbed browsing, live bookmarks and an integrated search bar. 5.0MB

Ad-Aware SE Personal is a utility that scans for and removes malicious spyware, aggressive advertising, data mining programs, Trojans, dialers, malware, browser hijackers and tracking components. 2.9MB

Adobe Reader 7.0 allows viewing, printing and searching of PDF files commonly found on the internet. 20MB

RealPlayer plays popular media formats and organizes music and video. It also transfers music to iPods and other portable music players. 10.8MB

GalleryPlayer is a home gallery service that brings the world’s finest photography and art to any high definition display. Choose from six galleries offered for free or purchase other images with the included 20% off coupon. 10MB

Trillian Instant Messenger allows chatting with AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and IRC. 9.2 MB

The Google Pack Screensaver turns photos from a PC’s collection into a screensaver. It also offers full screen views or a virtual photo collage. Simply choose the photos and select the transition and timing settings. 670K

Picasa helps to find, edit and share photos. Upon opening, Picasa locates and sorts all photos found on the PC. Picasa makes it easy to apply one click fixes and special effects to photos. Sharing and printing becomes a snap with this free program. 3.3MB

Tour the world with Google Earth. This 3D Earth browser zooms from space to street level. It uses stunning satellite images and provides local facts, driving directions, points of interest and more. Many of the newscasters use Google Earth on their broadcasts. 10MB

Google Desktop allows easy access to information on your computer and from the web. It indexes and searches email, computer files, music, photos, chats and viewed webpages. Use Quick Find to quickly find data or applications. The included Sidebar displays new email, personalized news, and syndicated feeds among other things. 726K

Google Toolbar piggybacks onto web browser toolbars. It features a search box, spell check button, word translator button and blocks pop-up ads. 550K

Google Talk lets you call or send instant messages for free using email, instant messaging or a voice call. The software pre-loads your Gmail contacts making it easy to initiate a call. For voice calls it requires an internet connection (broadband recommended), microphone and speakers. 819K

While offering bundled software isn’t necessarily Earth-shattering, it’s a step towards building customer loyalty and ultimately driving more search requests. Google currently has a link to the Google Pack on its homepage.