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Friday, October 22, 2004
Why Microsoft Released The Partner Pack
I'm installing Microsoft's just released Partner Pack for Windows XP, and I believe I've figured out why the thing exists. Microsoft has been trying to convince users for a long time now to install the .NET package from Windows Update. Now really, what better way to ensure computer users do that than giving away an antivirus program and several utilities, and requiring installation of the .NET runtime before you can download? Smart move, MS.

The Partner Pack includes:
Google Deskbar - Microsoft's description page resists the urge to say anything mean, or even give instructions on how to use MSN Search with the Deskbar
Computer Associates eTrust - for the first time, Windows gives away an antivirus program, at least free for a year
Onfolio Express - Research assistant panel for Internet Explorer
Post-it Software Notes - lets you put little digital sticky notes all over your computer screen
Super Slyder - a puzzle game
Desktop Media Gallery - lets you search PixelMill templates and Corbis images for Microsoft Office, and gives away many of them for free
PhotoSite - free photo hosting and sharing
PayPal Payment Request Wizard - makes it possible to pay PayPal money through email
Serpentine - another puzzle game, this one with some sort of Chinese theme
Microsoft USB Flash Drive Manager - gives all flash drives an interface, instead of leaving them to fend for themselves as virtual drives
Microsoft Time Zone - lets you keep track of multiple time zones via the system tray

UPDATE: I kept reading through the copy on Microsoft's website and they clearly state that Google Deskbar runs on .NET:
When Google wanted to make the Google Deskbar extensible for developers, they decided to create a .NET-based plug-in API. The productivity and security enhancements enabled by targeting
the .NET Framework make the Deskbar easy to extend with new functionality.
Now, I know the Deskbar couldn't have originally been a .NET product, because if it had, I wouldn't have been able to run it previously. Does the Partner Pack include a .NET version of the Deskbar, or I am totally misreading things (or is it .NET, and you don't necessarily need the .NET runtime to run it)? And more importantly: Does the .NET version of Deskbar run better than the normal version?

UPDATE 2: The Partner Pack version of the Google Deskbar is definetly a new version. The "About" page lists it as version 0.5.94, while the current Deskbar version on Google's website is 0.5.81. It also seems slightly faster, although there's no way for me to properly confirm that.

That is pretty kewl Nathan. If the Deskbar can be extended, I wonder what will be around the corner then.

And did I read you right? The later version (0.5.94) of the Deskbar is available on Microsoft, but not at Google?
I have just posted in my blog about how Google and MSN Deskbars are so similar that they look to me more as a product of collaboration than of competition. I linked to you. By the way, you will find that version 0.5.95 is available in Google's site.
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