According to a report in The Financial Times, Google is phasing out its internal use of Windows and will instead require most employees to use Macs or Linux-based PCs instead. The report, which is based on conversations with "several" Google employees, hasn't been verified by the search giant publicly. But Microsoft has already responded to the news.
"We're not doing any more Windows," one Google employee told The Financial Times. "It is a security effort. Many people have been moved away from \\[Windows-based\\] PCs, mostly towards Mac OS, following the China hacking attacks. Linux is open source and we feel good about it. Microsoft we don't feel so good about."
Those Google employees that do want to stick with Windows reportedly "require clearance from quite senior levels." One employee told The Financial Times, "Getting a new Windows machine now requires CIO approval."
If this news is true, Google is apparently requiring its own employees to do something that the vast majority of its customers do not: use an OS other than Windows. According to the latest usage share data, 93.5 percent of computer users on the web use Windows, which has an installed base of more than 1 billion users.
Microsoft, predictably, isn't amused by this purported Google move. Noting the "irony" of Google citing security as a reason to stop using Windows, the software giant pointed to Yale University's recent cancellation of a Gmail migration due to both security and privacy concerns. "The facts don't support the \\[Financial Times'\\] assertion that Windows is known for being more vulnerable to attacks by hackers and more susceptible to computer viruses than other operating systems," a posting to the Windows team blog reads. "When it comes to security, even hackers admit we're doing a better job making our products more secure than anyone else. And it's not just the hackers; third-party influentials and industry leaders like Cisco tell us regularly that our focus and investment continues to surpass others."
Microsoft even goes after the Mac, which is widely considered to be more secure than Windows. "Macs are \\[currently\\] under attack by high-risk malware ... is it a future sign of things to come for Apple and security?" the blog reads. "Microsoft makes the security of our customers a huge priority."
While security is a convenient if misguided excuse, it's probably more likely that Google is simply moving to more of an in-house architecture now that it offers solutions that compete with Windows and other Microsoft products. Google employees don't use PowerPoint for presentations, for example, since the company offers its own competing solution.
Google's sudden focus on security is laudable, and even understandable, given its high-profile victimization at the hands of hackers back in January. And while the hackers targeted a flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) in order to gain entry into Google's infrastructure, it's worth pointing out two related facts. One, the version of IE that was hacked was IE 6, an out-of-date browser that Google's technically sophisticated employees should have stopped using years ago. And two, it was Google that was hacked, not Microsoft. Curious, that.