Although Google's upcoming got most of the press, Google co-founder Larry Page made another important announcement during his CES keynote address. He also introduced the Google Pack, a suite of software applications that can be installed with one simple download.
I'm home from Las Vegas and have had a chance to download and install the new Google Pack.
The inspiration behind Google Pack, according to Google vice president Marissa Mayer, came from Page himself who "bought a computer, set it up himself and it took him about 3 hours to click through dozens of license agreements and more than 50 clicks on wizards."
Before I talk about what the Google Pack is and how it works, let me say what it is not. It does not contain any Office-type productivity applications and it's not a frontal assault against Microsoft.
That's not to say that Microsoft shouldn't worry. Google certainly has the capacity to challenge the software behemoth's cash cow products but that, if it ever happens, is for another day. Also, there is nothing in the Google Pack that you can't get for free elsewhere on the Internet. Still, it does add value because of the way it installs and updates the programs it comes with.
While I have mixed feelings about some of its components, I do have to give Google credit for the way it enables users to easily download and install the suite of programs. Just go to pack.google.com (or see the link at Google.com), follow the very simple instructions and you'll be using the software in as little as a few minutes. About the only programs out there that are easier to install than Google Pack are the bad ones like spyware and viruses that, literally, install themselves.
CBS News tech analyst Larry Magid speaks to Marissa Mayer,Google's director of product management for consumerproducts, about Google's new software package.
Google Pack comes with Adobe Reader 7, which is an essential piece of software for reading PDF files, but one that is already extremely widely deployed. Many PCs already come bundled with it and it's not all that hard to download and install from Adobe's website. But with Google Pack you won't have to worry about keeping it up to date. It also comes with the RealPlayer media player, which I suspect most people have as well.