Google Drops Windows From Its In-House Computers

Google stops using Windows
Google stops using Windows

Google (GOOG) will no longer use Microsoft (MSFT) Windows internally. New employees will be given the option of using Apple's (AAPL) Mac OSX or PCs that run the open-source operating system Linux.

Google made the move because it blames flaws in Window's security for the cyber-attack on its Chinese servers late last year, according to the Financial Times. Those attacks caused friction between Google and the Chinese government, and prompted the company to withdraw its search operations from the Mainland to Hong Kong.

The decision's impact could be profound. First, Google employees are almost certainly used to Windows because it's the most fully featured operating system in the world and runs on 80% to 90% of all PCs. While much of Apple's operating system works similarly to Windows, Linux has often been criticized as being under-featured.

Not Good Enough?

Why isn't Google asking its employees to use its own desktop, cloud-based applications? That omission could leave current and potential users of that software with the impression that it's not fully developed enough for the search firm's internal use. That will present a PR problem when Google tries to sell its applications as an alternative to Windows.

The move away from Windows also reflects the rivalry between the two giants. The fact that Google employees used Windows provided an endorsement of sorts, so it's better to have them use an alternative than a rival's products. These days, of course, Apple may be an even bigger rival for Google, but at least Apple's desktop operating system isn't the world's most dominant.

Google's action also says a great deal about the security of server and PC software. If the largest software companies in the world can't protect their data, almost all Internet-based applications are at risk from malicious programmers, no matter what their motivations are.