Google Is Pushing Out Windows to Make Room for Chrome
That's the unmistakable message from a report in the Financial Times saying Google is phasing out its internal use of computers running Microsoft Office.
It all begs the question however: If Google Docs, the company's Web-based answer to Microsoft Office, and Chrome, the search giant's forthcoming operating system, are as great as Google evangelists say, what was the company doing still using Microsoft products in the first place?
The report cites several anonymous Google employees, some of whom peg the decision to security concerns that arose after Google was the victim of a massive cyber-attack late last year.
Was Internet Explorer at Fault?
"We're not doing any more Windows. It is a security effort," said one Google employee. "Many people have been moved away from [Windows] PCs, mostly towards Mac OS, following the China hacking attacks," said another.
Shortly after Google disclosed the attack and threatened to quit China altogether, a cyber-security firm said that a previously unknown vulnerability in the Microsoft's browser, Internet Explorer, was a key "vector" exploited during the attack. But as Microsoft spokesperson Frank X. Shaw pointed out, the Google China incident didn't involve Windows, but Internet Explorer.
The report's real significance is that it suggests Google increasingly views Microsoft as irrelevant, but Google wouldn't reveal details behind the move. "We're always working to improve the efficiency of our business, but we don't comment on specific operational matters," a Google spokesperson told DailyFinance.
While I'm sure the unnamed Google employees cackled with delight at the chance to (anonymously) dump on Microsoft over security concerns, I think it's more likely that Google is simply preparing for the launch of Chrome, its much-ballyhooed Web-based operating system. It's well known that Google uses its nearly 20,000 employees worldwide as guinea pigs to iron out the kinks in new products and tests new projects on them.
"A Double Threat to Microsoft"
Google first announced Chrome in September 2008 as a Web browser aimed squarely at Internet Explorer, but it was clear even then that Chrome's true target was Windows. "Chrome is a double threat to Microsoft," Google expert Danny Sullivan told me at the time. "It's not just about the browser threat to Internet Explorer. It reinforces the threat to Microsoft on the application front as well."
Last year, Google made its ambitions plain when it announced that Chrome would in fact be the foundation for a new Web-based operating system. Google is expected the formally launch Chrome OS later this year. In the Financial Times story, a Google employee said the upcoming launch was a factor in Google's decision. "A lot of it is an effort to run things on Google product," the employee said. "They want to run things on Chrome.
Whatever the motivation for the move away from Microsoft, I'm sure Google execs are enjoying every minute of this.