Google's shift towards offering software and services is being emphasised at 10 events for software developers taking place around the world.
The Developer Days were expected to attract around 5,000 developers, with many others tuning in online.
The events, highlighting Google's tools and services for building web-based applications, provide evidence of how far Google has come from being its search company origins to offering software and services that compete increasingly with those of Microsoft.
In a series of presentations, engineers showed how developers can use APIs (application programming interfaces) for Google Maps, Google Checkout and other services to add functionality to websites or build new, mash-up applications. The company also unveiled new software, including a browser plug-in called Google Gears, for viewing web applications offline, and the Google Mashup Editor, an "experimental tool" for creating user interfaces with AJAX.
Google wants the events to build a bigger developer community, which in turn can help promote its paid services, such as the professional edition of its online productivity applications. Increasing the number of websites using Google services would also help drive its advertising business.
Company engineers sought to emphasise the collaborative role that developers can play with Google's APIs. "We need your creativity and your imagination to drive the development of these products," said Patrick Chanezon, evangelist for Google Checkout, at the start of the Paris meeting. The other events on Thursday were being held in Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow, Sao Paulo, Madrid, London, and Hamburg, Germany.
Gregory Renard, chief technology officer of IT consulting company Wygwam, is a Microsoft Most Valued Professional, and is undecided as to whether he prefers the Google tools to Microsoft's competing Windows Live APIs for web-based applications. Google's roots are on the web but Microsoft has much more experience of building tools for developers, he said.
"Google is a search company that wants to be a software company, and Microsoft is a software company that wants to be a search company," he added.
Cyril Pierre de Geyer was trying to decide if his company, Anaska, which provides training in MySQL and PHP, should also offer training in Google APIs. Anaska uses Google Maps on its own website to show locations of its training centres, he said.
Google has a good reputation with developers and contributes code to the open-source community, such as extensions for the MySQL database, de Geyer said. But Google also had a tendency to monetise its services more aggressively than a few years ago by putting more ads on its search results pages, he added.
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