Google's software choices do not threaten Microsoft (yet)

Google is not going head-to-head with Microsoft. Not yet, anyway.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

Larry PageThere are two open source points to be made about Google's "Google Pack" announcement today, made by co-founder Larry Page at CES. (As is often the case, Google gave an "exclusive" to the Wall Street Journal the day before Page spoke.)

First (and most important) Forbes has it wrong. Google is not going head-to-head with Microsoft. Not yet, anyway.

Second, Google is using open source where it can, but not religiously. There are several (crippled) versions of proprietary programs in there. There's Adobe Acrobat (but just the reader), and the free version of the Real Networks RealPlayer (the one that keeps demanding a paid upgrade each time you use it). There's the free version of Norton's AntiVirus (the one they pack in new PCs) and LavaSoft's AdAware, too.

But there is also a lot of open source stuff in there. There's Trillian, the IM client, and there's Firefox. Then there is all of Google's stuff -- Picasa, Desktop, Earth, the Toolbar, and Google Talk. (The last is now subject to a patent case from a company that doesn't make anything, just owns patents and sues people who make things.) Of course it's all packaged in a single download.

The key question, then, is the licensing scheme Google itself is employing, as it moves to become your free desktop software utility provider. Anyone out there have a problem with it?

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