Google Drops StarOffice from Pack; Firefox Next?

By Josh Catone
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Google Pack, a downloadable package of free Internet and productivity software for Windows users, has mysteriously dropped Sun’s StarOffice suite from its lineup, reports PC Pro. The pack, which includes a number of Google and third-party software programs, including Google Desktop, Firefox, Skype, and Norton Security Scan, previously included the Microsoft Office alternative StarOffice.

StarOffice, which is based on the open source OpenOffice.org program, also competes with Google’s own suite of online office applications, Google Docs. Is Google trying to push users toward its own suite of online office tools? Perhaps, though for now the Pack doesn’t appear to include any sort of desktop launcher for Google’s Docs applications (which do support offline access via the Gears plugin).

PC Pro thinks that Google may also be reacting to recent comments by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that pooh-poohed the threat from Google’s web apps recently, saying, “We have better competition today than Google Docs and Spreadsheets. We get more competition from OpenOffice and StarOffice, frankly.”

Though his company is finally planning to bring Office to the web — a clear sign that Microsoft is feeling some pressure from its Internet rival, Ballmer may be at least partially correct. We reported a few weeks ago that the numbers currently paint OpenOffice.org as a bigger competitor to Microsoft’s office application dominance than Google. However, the agility that Google has shown in upgrading and improving their office suite is something that may give Microsoft some pause, at least internally.

If pushing people toward their own suite of tools is what Google is playing it, we expect that there is a possibility that we’ll see Firefox dropped from the Google Pack eventually as well and replaced with Chrome (at least once that browser is out of beta). Google Chrome (recent coverage), remember, is built specifically for running web applications, so it would make sense for Google to push people toward running their web app suite in their own browser.

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