Recently Google launched Google Pack (http://pack.google.com), its way to give us all the sofwares its got and some other which Google claims are Essential.
So what comes in this pack, all the Google Software, its favourite Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar, Ad-Aware SE Personal, Norton Antivirus 2005 Special Edition and Adobe Reader 7. Then there are a few other additional softwares viz. Google Talk (yes its not included in essential ones) RealPlayer, GalleryPlayer HD Images and Trillian. So in all 13 softwares of which it preselects 9 of them and the rest 4 are for you to decide. But then one can completely customise what one wants to download and not.
To install the Google Pack you must first visit the site and give your selection. Then clicking the download link downloads the Google Pack Installer, a small Windows desktop application that analyzes the choices you make and then later downloads and installs the applications you selected.
On running the Google Updater, a simple clean interface greets you and downloads and installs all the softwares you have selected. All the apps installed by it are accessible in the Installed Software tab and there is a Preferences tab to do a few tiny configurations, such as whether you want to be notified when there are updates, whether Google Pack Installer should display a system tray icon, and so on
The good thing is its a completely automated installation so one dosent have to be bugged by all the diferent steps of installation.But sadly the Quick Launch Toolbar and the System Tray become full and also there are the bugging notifications to configure each software. After it says all softwares have been installed its when your task begins. You must launch each and every software installed to configure it viz. Google Talk must be configured with your GMail information. Google Desktop Search has to be configured with various preferences and so.
Now lets go through all the softwares, in the same categories and order as Google puts them in.
Google Earth is a cool application, and a must have for everyone. Just go round the world, with some awsome satellite images. Its something to have for times when you have nothing to do. Although one does need a PC with a pretty decent configuration and a somewhat good net connection, something to the tune of 256 kbps will work just fine.
Its the software that promises to brings google literally to your desktop. But sadly falls short of it, but yes its way better than the search function present in Windows. Since its web browser based you can always do a Google search through it anytime u want, provided you are connected to net.
Its one of my favourite softwares of the pack and also the one of the best photo management and editing package around. This wonderful piece of software offers simple photo management tools with various sorting options and photo labeling capabilities, and provides simple yet powerful photo editing tools that even true beginners can use. You can launch slideshows, create collages, send photos to blogs and Web sites and perform virtually any other photo-related task you can think of. I especially like the way the application blurs in the background when a dialog pops up, to ensure you’re focused on the right thing. A real must have for any one from a novice to an expert.
Internet Explorer (IE) is one software I wont ever recommend in the current senario as better alternatives in the form of Opera and Firefox exist. So this piece of software becomes completely useless, no matter how good it is. If you still want to continue using IE to infect your PC and cause your own PCs collapse, then this is something you should have.
An exclusive offering found only in Google Pack, Google Pack Screensaver is, well, a screensaver that displays your photo collection and animates between individual photos in three ways, via a collage effect, a wipe, or a cross fade. The former is the most interesting, as it creates a visual effect similar to that of someone dumping Polaroid images on your desktop over time.
The only real problem is that it can’t be configured to understand subfolders i.e. if you have multiple folders in folders to categorise your pics and would want to add them to the Google Pack Screensaver, then get ready for a lot of clicking.
Firefox is a software that Google is pushing very hard and no surprise its include in the pack by default. I would also recommend Firefox to anyone and everyone using IE to shift to it, but my personal favourite is Opera for its superiority to any PC based browser and also its so ultra light on the system. But then Firefox and Google toolbar do make an extremely good replacement.
Ad-Aware is a well-known anti-spyware application, though it’s far inferior to Microsoft Microsoft AntiSpyware or Spybot Search & Destroy. The SE Personal edition found in Google Pack is particularly limited because it can only perform manual spyware scans and does not keep your system protected constantly. So a strcit NO NO.
Norton Antivirus is really a great product, but sadly not recommended as it would literally kill your PCs performance. I would better recommend Kaspersky AntiVirus coupled with ZoneAlarm Firewall to protect your PC.
Its the software everyone has to have to enjoy PDF documents to the fullest. If you have a PC with low system resources then FoxIT PDF reader is recommended.
Google Talk put in Optional Pack amazes a bit. Its something thats loosing users fast ( i wonder if they do have any left). An utter useless chat client which dosent even have graphical emoticons. The only saving grace is its Superior Voice Chat capabilities, but then why the hell is Skype there for!
Another useless software included in Google Pack. Its so useless that I am not even going to write about it. Winamp does all the job one may ever need from a media player. If you do have formats that Winamp won’t support then you can use this wonderfull SWITCH software to conver music files to that of your choice.
GalleryPlayer HD is collections of high-quality high-definition (HD) imagery. However, you don’t get GalleryPlayer HD with Google Pack. Not even get a trial version of the player. Instead, you get a folder full of medium-resolution GalleryPlayer HD images, which you can use as desktop wallpaper or in photo slideshows (Figure).
Why am I saying that? Thats because GalleryPlayer makes money through subscriptions and paid downloads. And GalleryPlayer charges a lot of money for its service, and it’s not the type of thing the typical PC user would be interested in. Also, the images provided in Google Pack are stamped with a large GalleryPlayer logo.
Wella lot of Googles own softwares. Google Web Accelerator, Blogger for Word, and GMail Notifier, and didn’t provide a way for users to sign up for a GMail account. These are really lot better than some of the few rubbish softwares included in the pack.
Google Pack is a mixed bag of applications, some useful and some utter useless. Its Google’s first step in trying to make the PC experience simpler and more secure. But the most glarring defect is that its security apps are way out-of-date, and essentially security products which are not up-to-date are more worse than not having them at all, as the users get’s a false sense of security and believe they’re protected when in fact they are not.
My rating of 1.5 stars is more morre than what it deserves. Google you really need to do a complete overhaul of this and that too quick.