Google Bans Windows over Security Threat…Or Perhaps They Just Don’t Like Microsoft

by Matt Klassen on June 2, 2010

Late last year Google experienced a devastating cyber-attack, as the hands of Communist hackers reached out from behind the Great Firewall of China and, as speculation suggests, stole some of Google’s valuable source code. While Google responded as any irrational jilted lover would, turning their back on China and pulling out all Chinese based services and operations, it looks like the search engine giant has found one more company to blame, and this time it’s a little closer to home.

Although I’m almost positive that Google executives will downplay their recent decision to ban all of Microsoft’s Windows operating systems on employee computers, the Financial Times reports that the expulsion of the ubiquitous Windows is a company-wide attempt at addressing serious ‘security concerns’ over the amount of protection Windows offers against such hacker attacks. Phew! I’m glad that makes sense; I just thought Google didn’t like Windows.

As the report indicates, new hires at Google are now given two choices for their ideal operating system: A Mac or a Linux-based PC, and for those current employees that adamantly wish to continue using their Windows OS, well, the report suggests that they’ll need top level clearance to do so, perhaps even from Google’s CIO himself.

But before we get ahead of ourselves here, questioning Google’s brash and wildly irrational moves since its most secretive source code was violated at the hands of Chinese hackers, let’s take a closer look at Google’s logic. While I have little doubt that there were some security interests at stake in the decision to ban Windows from Google’s computer, I think there are two simpler, more straightforward reasons behind this controversial decision, one’s that Google may want to actually mask by starting rumors about security concerns.

The first reason, in my mind, that Google is finally doing away with Windows is that it’s never been a particularly popular OS around the search engine giant’s headquarters to begin with. Google is clearly a company driven by open Linux based systems, and the fact that Windows has been the default PC operating system for so long has probably been an ever-present thorn in Google’s side. But what sort of reaction would this story get if a Google spokesperson stepped up and said, “We’re no longer using Windows because, well, we really don’t like it.”

The second reason, and this one makes a lot of sense, is that Google is pushing, in a gentle do-no-evil sort of manner, its own Linux-based Chrome OS, and why shouldn’t it? When a company as expansive as Google finally develops an operating system that it thinks rivals the perennial favorites, why would it continue to use its competitors’ technology? Of course this theory falters a bit when you still realize that running a Mac is still a viable option for Google employees, but perhaps that’s due simply to Schmidt’s lingering attachments to Apple.

With all that said, it’s difficult to determine the veracity of any of this speculation. In a tech world where leaked stories are often cleverly planted red herrings, designed specifically to mislead investigations, and where the truth is often wrapped in several veils of propaganda and half-truths, it’s hard to know who to believe.

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Update: Microsoft Fires Back at Google, “Windows Is Secure…Even Hackers Think So!” —
August 13, 2012 at 8:46 am

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