Google Fanboy Essentials, err Pack

Google PackGoogle Fanboy Essentials -- actually Google calls it the Google Pack, announced on their official blogsite and press release.

So we created the Google Pack -- a one-stop software package that helps you discover, install, and maintain a wide range of essential PC programs. It’s yours today – and it’s something we hope you find to be painless, easy, and even fun (if computer setup can ever be called that). And it's free.

So, it is basically a bundle of software packages, installed with a straight-forward interface -- no endless wizards and <Next> and <I Agree> to click through. Moreover, it provides this Google Updater service to automatically keep everything current. Free, of course. But, what packages does it have, that Google can claim that they are essential PC programs?

Here's the current list:

  • Adobe Reader 7 -- well, it's pretty essential as most documents downloaded online are in PDF format.
  • Ad-Aware SE Personal -- I guess it is almost necessary living in Windows' world. Unless you are super-careful with what you install.
  • GalleryPlayer HD Images -- what's that? It doesn't sound like anything essential. Bandwidth waster IMHO.
  • Google Desktop -- background indexer keeping your documents organised. Not essential if you are already an organised person (or just don't have enough documents to get messy). Unless you like the sidebar thing...
  • Google Earth -- another time waster, because browsing it is just so much fun. Essential? Hardly, especially there's only satellite images but no map for Australia.
  • Google Pack Screensaver -- yet another screensaver that display random images off your hard disk that hardly saves your screen. I usually just use the "Off" button on the monitor.
  • Google Talk -- XMPP based instant messenger with VoIP. Useful if you do have buddies on there. All mine are using either ICQ or MSN :(
  • Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer -- completely useless when Google Pack also installs Firefox.
  • Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar -- alright. This one is essential. What else are you going to browse the web with?
  • AntiVirus 2005 Special Edition -- you can argue that anti-virus program is essential on Windows as well. But what's the point of having an anti-virus application when the protection update expires in 6 months?
  • Picasa -- another Google application that helps you organising digital photos. Personally I find combination of folders and Gallery works for me.
  • RealPlayer -- huh? How can Google include this bloatware, if Real did not actually pay Google to do so? Unless there's some deal with the up-coming Google Video Store... Again, hardly essential.
  • Trillian -- not until Google worked out how to get Jabber gateway working effectively, then you can do all your multi-IM communication over Google Talk.

Well, more than half of them are Google "toys" rather than essential software for a new Windows PC. Others, like Firefox, also includes Google branded toolbar. Therefore I'll rather call it "Google Fanboy Essentials", as probably only the real fanboy will install them all.

On the other hand, most of those "essentials" on Windows can be replaced with merely a Mac running OS X. There will be no need for adware nor virus scanner. PDF can be displayed via built in Preview. You can browse safe with Safari, though you can still have Firefox on OS X. You have iPhoto that does all the photo management, and Spotlight for indexing. Multimedia player and multi-IM client might need to be sourced elsewhere (VLC and Adium?), but a fresh OS X install already feels more usable.

However, this Google Updater service feels interesting. What is Google's plan for it? Maybe Windows Update for all Microsoft OS and applications, and Google Updater for the rest, since Google has pretty good knowledge about the latest release of almost every application? Will there be an apt-get or "portage" edition to install other "essential" packages via one central application?

More goodies from Google in 2006.