Microsoft-busting speculation aside, search engine delights Las Vegas crowds as it unveils ideas to get closer to PC users

Google outlines ambitious PC plans

THE MOST talked-about company at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas had to be search-engine giant Google. Despite the nonappearance of the Google PC, it was
clear that the company has ambitions way beyond its current sector.
There has been widespread speculation that Google would try to take on Microsoft’s near monopoly of the operating system market with a PC using its own, most likely Linux based,
OS, enabling it to dramatically undercut the price of Windows-run PCs. But if this is to happen, co-founder Larry Page made no mention of it in his keynote speech.
However, there were still plenty of new products on offer to make Microsoft sit up and pay attention. The most significant had to be the Google Pack. This free download features an extensive package of tools and applications apparently designed to expand and reinforce Google’s relationship with PC users.
As well as all the Google applications you would expect like the toolbar, Google Earth and Google Desktop, there are a wide range of Google and third party applications apparently aimed at challenging Microsoft’s dominance of the PC. These include the Mozilla Firefox web browser, the RealPlayer media player and Google Talk, a voice and instant messaging tool. These are all clear competitors of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player and MSN Messenger.
This launch, combined with the Google PC rumours, and speculation late last year of a collaboration between Google and Sun Microsystems to produce a rival office suite, has put Google squarely in the role of challenger to the Microsoft throne, especially in the eyes of the
national media.
The rivalry was further intensified with Google co-founder Larry Page’s comment that: "Having the right software on your PC is as easy as going to the Google homepage," while Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates referred to Google as an over-hyped “media darling”.
Meanwhile, the other big Google launch was the Google Video Store; an e-commerce site where anyone can buy clips of movies to download. It has created its own digital rights management system for the service, but will support rival systems as well. Any company can put their content up for sale at any price, although Google has also signed up some major content providers like the CBS television network, the National Basketball League and music videos from Sony BMG.

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