Google Pack, (not to be confused with Google Apps) is a bunch of desktop applications, some created by Google and some created by other companies. Importantly, it allows one update application to track new versions of many applications. This is better than having you or a separate update program for each application try to keep thing up to date.
Created by Google.
Google Earth. Competes with Microsoft Earth and NASA WorldWind. I recommended getting all three.
Google Toolbar for Firefox or MSIE. Important for popup blocking. Optional–modern browser already let you block some popups in the preferences.
Google Desktop. Better than either of the Windows desktop search technologies. It is fast and easier to configure. Recommended. Also includes widgets, similar to Vista widgets or Yahoo Kombobulator. Widgets only recommended if you have a huge screen.
Picasa. The best way to remove red eye from photos. Also, with time you can learn to fix a lot more defects. Recommended.
Google Photo Screensaver. Very pretty. Recommended.
Google Talk. Yet another IM client. Useful for chatting with people who have gmail, but not any other IM client. Not really recommended, Google talk is an also ran in the IM universe. An exception might be if you plan on using Google Apps and can ensure everyone in your small company will have a Google talk account.
Not created by Google
Norton Security Scan. I use clamwin. Not recommended.
Spyware Doctor. I use Windows Defender. Not recommended.
Adobe Reader. I’m fed up with Adobe’s update system, I use Foxit. Not recommended.
Skype. Skype is yet another IM/Voice chat application with emphasis on the voice chat. Unlike most IM chat clients, you can use Skype to call physical telephones. Skype seizes your left over balance if you don’t use them frequently and continuously. This is recommended, just be careful about giving Skype money.
Real Player. The BBC has a crapware free version of realplayer. Use that one instead if you come across a site that offers content only in real player format. The market for media players is very crowded with good free competitors, many with better sound quality. Last.FM has better sound for streaming radio. Democracy player and Songbird have better support for rss subscriptions to media. Not recommended.
In sum, just because an application is bundled with a bunch of high quality Google Applications, that doesn’t mean you want it on your system.
Ready to set up a new computer fast?