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Google Preps a New Pack

Yesterday, Google updated its free, quick-installing set of add-ons to Windows, Google Pack (which I reviewed favorably shortly after its arrival in early 2006).

The latest revisions, however, don't add any significant new capabilities, and, in one case amount to a bit of a downgrade:

* The six-month trial copy of Symantec's Norton Anti-Virus 2005 has been replaced by Symantec's Norton Security Scan. This includes unlimited free updates to its virus database, but it doesn't offer "real-time" protection, in the sense of stopping you from running a virus that lands in your inbox.

* AdAware SE, a spyware remover, has been removed in favor of Spyware Doctor Starter Edition. Unlike the trial version of Spyware Doctor already available, this one can evict any spyware that it finds.

* The old Google Pack Screensaver is now called Google Photos Screensaver and can display photos hosted at a variety of online photo-sharing sites (including, of course, Google's own Picasa Web Albums).

The other programs bundled in Google Pack--Google's own Google Earth, Google Desktop, Picasa and Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer, as well as Mozilla Firefox (with Google Toolbar preinstalled) and Adobe Reader--remain unchanged. Also unchanged are three optional Google Pack components--Google Talk, RealPlayer, Google Video Player, GalleryPlayer HD Images and Skype (which Google added in November).

Google Pack remains a fine addition to a Windows machine--by far the simplest way to get an XP system up to speed. But it could do a lot more if it included a few other extras--for instance, a competent e-mail program and a simple, automated backup utility would do a lot to address two of the biggest shortfalls in XP.

Are you a satisfied (or other) Google Pack user? What else would you like to see in this bundle?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  March 28, 2007; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Windows  
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