Google ups stakes in Microsoft rivalry

Google has upped the stakes in the crusade for search domination by attacking Microsoft on home territory through the launch of free desktop services.

Google Pack beta is a collection of software from Google and other companies that aims to improve the user's experience online and on their desktop.

The pack lets users install and maintain software to make it easier to surf the internet, communicate better and manage information.

Software includes: Google Earth; Adobe Reader 7; Picasa; RealPlayer; Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer; and Google Talk.

Google Pack also includes Google Updater, a tool which downloads, installs and maintains all the software in the Google Pack and alerts users when new programmes become available.

Marissa Mayer, vice-president of search products and user experience at Google, said: "We developed Google Pack to give users a way to painlessly install all the essential software they need, pre-configured in a sensible way, in a matter of minutes. Better yet, users don't have to keep track of software updates or new programs -- we maintain and update all the software for them."

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