At this year's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Google made a bold move by offering a free software kit designed to make online computing safer and easier for the ordinary computer-user.
In a direct attempt to knock software-giant Microsoft off of its pedestal, Google has introduced this free package dubbed "Google Pack" to help make users' home PCs a repository of communications, entertainment and information.
Included in its suite of nine programs are applications like Mozilla's FireFox Web browser; Adobe Acrobat Reader 7; Ad-Aware SE (for removing unwanted spyware); and a six-month trial version of Norton AntiVirus 2005 Special Edition.
It also includes a swath of Google's own software like Google Earth (a 3D mapping program); Picasa (a digital photo organizer); Google Pack Screensaver (which allows you to use your own photos to create a screensaver for your computer); and Google Desktop and Toolbar for Internet Explorer (allowing users to perform Web searches on their desktop).
Google is implementing this software bundle to prove to users that they are better positioned to help people get the most out of computers, more then industry powerhouses like Microsoft.
"Neither Google nor the other participants in the Google Pack are paying each other money," said Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products and user experience.
Bundling software is certainly not a new idea; however, Google hopes that this specific package will make the process of installing and updating the products included with it much easier than having users update individual software products. In addition, and most importantly, they hope to get a little more influence over what people are installing on their PCs while taking back some of the power from Microsoft.
"If the Google Pack proves popular among PC owners, more software makers are likely to be lining up to be included in future versions - a phenomenon that would give Google even more leverage in its slugfest with Microsoft," said Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li.
Packin' a Punch
To combat Google's rapid growth, Microsoft is sinking a large amount of money into its Internet search division. As of today, Google is still far ahead in market share; its stock value remains above $450 a share.
If the Google Pack is proven as a valuable asset to the company and end-users, they plan on distributing even more software and building on the loyalty their customers have been providing. In October, Google plans on taking it a step further by working with industry giant Sun Microsystems to release an open-source version of it's popular word-processing and spreadsheet programs.
If Google continues on its path of bundling popular software packages for free, it will put itself on a direct course to collide with Microsoft - which could result in lower software costs and better performing applications for the end user.
Michael Trantas is CEO, e-Safe Solutions, Inc., and can be reached at: [email protected] .