Google used to be best known as a search engine company, and possibly as an advertising solution. But then along came Google’s email service, online map solution, mobile operating systems, and a wide range of other products. Some have been runaway hits, like Gmail or Android. Others, not so much… like Wave and Lively.
But while Google has consistently launched new and interesting projects over the years, the company hasn’t always supported them… and recently Google announced it was shutting down Google Labs, its playground for experimental new features. As part of that shutdown, Google ended support for the App Inventor for Android and many other projects. App Inventor was saved by the folks at MIT, who will keep it going as an open source project. But today Google announced another round of products it’s killing, including some that have been around for years.
The move will help Google free up resources to use on other projects, but the truth is that Google has barely been supporting some of these services anyway.
Still, it’s a little sad to see some old friends on the chopping block, including Google Desktop, Google Notebook, and Google Pack.
Google Desktop is Google’s aging desktop search utility which you could use to index the contents of your computer and find files or even text in documents almost instantly. This is a feature that’s baked into many modern operating systems, so it makes sense to end support, but if you’re one of the many people still using Windows XP you may want to find another solution, such as Copernic or Windows Search.
Support for Google Desktop officially ends on September 14th.
Google Pack was a free package with a bunch of recommended desktop apps for Windows computers, recommended by Google. It includes Google tools such as the Chrome web browser, Google Earth, and Picasa image organizer. But it also includes free antivirus software, media, and communications software from other companies.
Nobody really needed Google Pack, but if you’re looking for a good set of free apps to install on your new computer, it was always a nice place to start. Google started offering Google Pack in 2005 and updated the list of included apps a number of times over the year. The company is killing the Pack today.
Google says it’s ending Google Pack because people don’t use desktop apps anymore, they use web apps. I think that’s Google seeing the world as it wants it to be rather than the way it still is. This is coming from a company that thinks it’s a good idea to release an operating system consisting of virtually nothing but a web browser. Still, I don’t know that many people will mourn the loss of Google Pack.
Google Notebook is an online service that lets users post notes online and save website URLs in one place. You can also share your notebooks with other users. But honestly, plenty of other companies such as Evernote have provided services that do this much better and which hav become much more popular.
Google will kill Notebook in the next few months, but all of your data will be saved and moved to your Google Docs account.
Other soon-to-be-dead Google services include Aardvark, Fast Flip, Google Maps API for Flash, Google Web Security, Google Image Labeler, Sidewiki, and Subscribed Links.