Google Pack: What It Was, What Was In It, and Why It Went Away

Graveyard tombstone image R.I.P.
Courtesy Getty Images

Definition:

Google Pack was a package of bundled software that Google introduced in 2005. It used to be a handy link to get all the toolbars and desktop apps Google offered. Google discontinued it in 2011.

What Was So Great with Google Pack?

Google Pack was bundled up, so you could download a bunch of useful apps all at once. It also often included apps for free that normally cost money. At one point, Google Pack included Star Office, which was a commercial version of Open Office.

Including it for free was a direct shot at Microsoft and the significant chunk of money the company makes from selling Microsoft Office.

The deal with Star Office was temporary, but Star Office was eventually discontinued. Google's relationship with Oracle further deteriorated when Oracle sued Google over the Java used in Android. Meanwhile, Google now emphasizes its online word processor, Google Docs, and the company hopes that it and the rest of Google Apps eventually replace Office in the hearts and minds of users. 

Meanwhile, you could download Google products like Google Earth, Picasa, and Chrome. You could also get free third-party apps like Avast (an antivirus program), Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Skype.

Why was Google Pack Discontinued?

Google went through a recent spring cleaning—or rather a "spring cleaning out of season." The company prioritized its efforts and removed a lot of projects and services.

Google Pack got the axe because Google's emphasis is increasingly on cloud apps; the idea of a downloaded app collection was becoming old fashioned.

Google also retired some of the individual components that used to belong within Google Apps. Google Desktop, Google Bar, and Google Gears are all gone.

It's more efficient to encourage downloads for the remaining individual items than advertise a bundle of downloads.

There was also the problem of shifting alliances with the third party apps. Star Office is one example, but Skype is another. The once-independent company is now owned by Microsoft. Google has shifted its advocacy for third-party apps to the small screen by showcasing Android apps for mobile phones and tablets. They also work to showcase Chrome extensions and apps, which are all cloud-based and can be used by both the Web browser and ChromeOS devices.

Some of the things Google was trying to promote with Google Apps weren't items for the average user.  The WebM video player only works if you're looking at WebM content, and if you're looking at WebM content, you're going to get prompted for a download. Google is hoping to promote the format to avoid paying fees for proprietary streaming formats like Flash and MP4.

Where to Find the Google Downloads: