When Google announced that it was going to offer a free suite of tools called Google Pack, I felt pretty confident that there would be some useful applications in there. When announced, I expected them to have something that would be very useful. I expected that there would be some flavor of OpenOffice. When it didn’t include that, and it included dogs (resource hogs) such as Norton and RealPlayer, it was a big miss. When Google puts out an app, even in Beta state, I expect it to be pretty tight and efficient. The initial offerings in the Google Pack didn’t fit that description. Back then, I didn’t recommend it to anyone!
There is now a very useful application that you would normally have to pay for. It is called StarOffice, and is free instead of the $69 version from Sun. The Google Pack is headed in the right direction. When installing the pack, you can select the apps that you want to install (a nice feature). Only install what you need. Don’t install hogs like Norton, or an intrusive application like the RealPlayer.
Go ahead and buy that $349 PC with an AMD chip without a version of Microsoft Office. You can use the apps in the Google Pack to get along just fine.
As far as the anti-virus offering goes, I am very surprised that they didn’t select a great product like the free version of AVG anti-virus. I have used it, and recommended, it for years.