Google forms a tech pack to take on Gates

The bitter battle between Google and Microsoft escalated on Friday as the search firm announced it would head an alliance of Microsoft’s rivals.

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By  Dominic Rushe, New York Published  January 15, 2006

The bitter battle between Google and Microsoft escalated on Friday as the search firm announced it would head an alliance of Microsoft’s rivals. Called Google Pack, the alliance offers free of charge many of the services available from Microsoft’s world-leading Windows program. The alliance was unveiled by Google co-founder Larry Page at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Last week Bill Gates, Microsoft’s co-founder, dismissed Google as an over-hyped “media darling”. In an interview before his appearance at the show Gates downplayed the impact of any Google launches. “I hear they’re coming out with a robot that will cook hamburgers, too. Let’s spread that rumour - there’s nothing they can’t do,” he said. Gates’s comments came as one analyst, Caris & Co’s Mark Stahlman, bet Google’s shares could eventually hit dollars 2,000. On Friday they closed at dollars 465.66. Google Pack brings together software from Google and other companies that consumers will be able to download and install on their computers. Much of that software is provided by Microsoft’s direct rivals and includes Firefox web browser and RealNetworks RealPlayer multimedia software. Firefox and RealNetworks compete against Windows Explorer web browser and its Windows Media Player, used for playing music and video. Google Pack will also include Google’s own software, including desktop search software and Google Talk, its instant-messaging program. Microsoft offers versions of both services with its Windows desktop software. “We’ve heard from countless new computer owners that it can take days or weeks to install all the software they need to make their computer useful,” said Marissa Mayer, vice-president of search products and user experience at Google. “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. Separately, Page unveiled plans to offer an online video store where customers can buy a wide array of sports, entertainment and news programming from partners such as ITN and America’s CBS. The launch comes after Apple Computer’s move into online video. Among others, Disney and the big music companies are offering video for Apple’s video iPods. The move will increase competition with Google’s closest rival Yahoo, which also chose to unveil a wide range of new services at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Terry Semel, Yahoo’s chief executive, launched Yahoo Go, a service that aims to expand the search engine’s reach to mobile devices. Initially, the service is being launched with Nokia, the phone maker, but Semel said he wanted all mobile devices to be able to take the service.

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