Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

No more Windows!

Google is phasing out the internal use of Microsoft’s ubiquitous Windows operating system because of security concerns, according to several Google employees.

The directive to move to other operating systems began in earnest in January, after Google’s Chinese operations were hacked, and could effectively end the use of Windows at Google, which employs more than 10,000 workers internationally.

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.

New hires are now given the option of using Apple’s Mac computers or PCs running the Linux operating system…

Employees wanting to stay on Windows required clearance from “quite senior levels”, one employee said. “Getting a new Windows machine now requires CIO approval,” said another employee…

The move created mild discontent among some Google employees, appreciative of the choice in operating systems granted to them – an unusual feature in large companies. But many employees were relieved they could still use Macs and Linux. “It would have made more people upset if they banned Macs rather than Windows,” he added.

Phew!




  1. Rabble Rouser says:

    Hopefully this will be the start of something. There needs to be real competition in the OS market. Microsoft has too much of the market, and I only hope that other corporations will follow Google’s lead.

  2. Improbus says:

    Good for them. I wonder what flavor of Linux they are going to use. I bet it is Ubuntu.

  3. Anthony says:

    And they won’t be hacked using a non-Windows OS? Hah! No OS will help if the real problem is social engineering.

  4. Personality says:

    So then, this means Google will change the colors in their name now?

  5. Tom says:

    This whole article seems suspect to me… The number of International Workers is wrong (Google has said many times it has something over 20,000), and the hack in China had nothing to do with Windows or any other OS – it was a backdoor in Gmail itself.

    A number of other publications have taken the article and its validity to task as well…

  6. skatterbrainz says:

    I love how everyong points fingers at Microsoft for being “too dominant”. If you run Windows then YOU put them there. There has ALWAYS been a choice and you couldve chosen Mac or Linux at anytime. So quit blaming them for being dominant. Blame the consumers.

  7. zybch says:

    Hmmm, hasn’t the mac been the first to fall in ALL of the last few pwn-2-own contests??
    With windows still standing till its default security settings were lowered.
    Linus is still the most secure, but its for the same reason that the mac USED to be secure – security via obscurity.

  8. Rabble Rouser says:

    @skatterbrainz

    I understand your rant, and at home, I do not use Windoze, and I recommend that people do not, however, my marketing an OS to people can only do so much, as Microsoft has a larger advertising budget than I do. They also have the “Goon Squad” at Best Buy, who, in these parts will not sell you a computer without an OS, as well as the other marketers who have partnered with the Evil Empire. What about the manufacturers who went into an agreement to ONLY put windows on their PCs. Yeah, personally, I don’t use the garbage, other than at work, but too many people believe what they see on TV.

  9. brm says:

    I predict a massive wave of new and successful attacks on OS X.

  10. amodedoma says:

    M$ has a very serious problems, it is the victim of it’s own success, being ubiquitous has it’s down side. That said it’s always better to have trained and qualified security people responsible for network security and never rely too heavily on systems automation, software, and updates. Linux is oldschool UNIX as far as network security, the tools are there but the responsibility lies with the professional, where it belongs.

  11. Cursor_ says:

    IF this is true, then Google being so large and powerful and its information on peoples’ habits so valuable will make whatever OS they are using a target.

    So UNIX hacks will come thickly.

    Well now we know where the next front of hacking will occur.

    Cursor_

  12. zybch says:

    Adding to Tom’s comment, not only was it google’s own Gmail system that was compromised, and it was compromised on systems with Windows XP operating in full administrator mode coupled with the venerable (arthritic) Internet Explorer 6.
    How the hell did it come to pass that they weren’t using IE8, or their own beloved Chrome??

    How difficult is it to keep your machines patched? For google, its obviously something they don’t seem to have the technical know-how to accomplish.
    From memory it takes a mere 5 clicks to enable Windows XP’s Automatic Update service, 4 if you don’t count the final ‘Ok’ to exit out of the settings box.

    On the other hand, google really should start eating its own dogfood and force their entire staff to use their own Chrome OS.
    At least them they’d quickly see just how crap and limiting it is and make enough changes to it so it can become a true OS rather than just a embedded OS for low-power tablets and netbooks.

  13. Animby says:

    Yeah. Yeah. Call me when it’s fully implemented. The CIO probably has an HP running Win7.

  14. Andrew says:

    As long as you’re not using Internet Explorer, Windows 7 is as or more secure than OS X.

  15. Todd Peterson says:

    I rejoice every time I read about a set-back for Microsoft. This is really great news!

  16. Awake says:

    I thought that Google was full of computer geniuses, but they can’t secure their own corporate network? After all, it’s not like their core service systems have ever run on Windows.

    If there are any changes, it’s because Google wants their own people to start using their own products, and one way of forcing it is by removing the most useful OS from their inventory. This way, their internal staff has to use Google docs, Google mail, etc.

    Why are people such big fans of Google… their products, aside from mail and search, pretty much suck.

    Google is starting to be a big confused mess… first they tell us Android is the future, then 2 years later it’s Chrome…

  17. MikeR says:

    If they are going to punt Windows, how do they plan to test their products to see if they work in Windows? This ranks high on the BS meter to me.

  18. sargasso says:

    Key word in the article was “security”. My own recent experiences suggest that Windows system administrators now have far more power inside an institution than Linux and Mac sysadmins do. This is in part due to the “audit and management” roles that they are playing, allowing them to install, uninstall, update, delete, edit account settings, disable functions and lock-out. Remotely. Would you like a Chinese Government agency to do that to your company with off the shelf software?

  19. jescott418 says:

    So the real question is will the Google people lose touch with mainstream users who stick with Windows?? This seems to be the problem with Linux users who think everyone should be using Linux but they are not. Sometimes when you isolate yourself from what your customers have you tend to create things only you care about. Its one thing to use a different OS for just security. Its another to use it to distance yourself from your customer.

  20. Skeptic says:

    Might they just develop their own OS?

  21. Bob says:

    Don’t take the news reported today in the Financial Times about Google curtailing internal use of Windows because of security concerns at face value.

    Google doesn’t use Windows (or, for that matter, Mac OS) very much internally, anyway. “When I worked there, most developers used Unix,” says Vanessa Fox, author of Marketing in the Age of Google. “So, I don’t know that a more formal step away from Windows will have much impact, at least within engineering.”

    Coincidentally, Google by now must be ramping up its internal testing of the Chrome Operating System, says David Harry, president of search consultancy Reliable SEO. Google unveiled Chrome OS, a Windows and Mac alternative, at a press conference last November, promising its release by late this year.

  22. Colonel Panic says:

    This sounds like a nightmare scenario for IT. Unable to keep Windows updated, how are they going to deal with different flavors of Linux?

  23. deowll says:

    I think most people posting here know that Google runs their serves on unix/linux in flavors they developed and they aren’t buying software. That would include Chrome and Android. They wrote it based on their own code. If they want the last two to run on Windows somebody is going to have to still be using Windows.

    They are going to support anything that shows up if enough people are using it. That means they need somebody using it.

    They might tell the shirts not to use Windows but like more than one person noted the easiest hack when push came to shove in the contests is Mac OS or XP but Vista and Windows 7 locked down aren’t that easy to crack. Certainly they aren’t any easier than a Mac.

    Chrome as an OS for shirts means Google Docs and I’m not sure how happy that would make them and it still seems to be alpha or beta ware and meant for things like netbooks and tablets.

    Apple and Google are no longer best buddies. The Mac OS is first cracked. It may be a smaller target but it obviously isn’t a tougher target.

    Linux/BSD/and similar software make some happy and not others. It depends on personal tastes and needs. Cracking it without direct accesses or user error is pretty much non trivial.

    I think I need a much better source of information. I wonder what Colleen might be willing to say about this?

  24. deowll says:

    What the bleep does the article mean by saying that this is a semi-formal policy? You need top level permission to use Windows. Google won’t comment, and people installing their own OS on desktops? They give you a desktop and it comes with the software they expect you to use with the machine locked down. Then the junk about Chrome. Chrome the OS or Chrome the browser?

    I think this is FUD.

  25. cgp says:

    Its happening. Remember VAX OS ! Big things can disappear, and at rates quite unbelievable. There are a lot of people in the food chain that are now losing ‘boul’ (dict lookup fail) control.

  26. cgp says:

    Sorry, even I forget the OS was VMS. Man that was a huge chunk of IT technology just vanished within 5 years.

  27. Micromike says:

    Since Windows has back doors for both the NSA and the CIA we are all fools for using it. Add to that that Microsoft is Google’s biggest corporate enemy (I think at Microsoft’s choosing) Google would be stupid to keep using it especially in light of the China debacle.

    If Google promises no government backdoors for Chrome I will be willing to switch. With the iPad there is very little I need Windows for and considering how bloated and slow Windows is I say “Good Riddance”.

  28. clifffton says:

    Folks,
    I’ve been on Ubuntu (and Mint) for almost 2 years. It’s not at all painful. Makes me miss my Amigas a little less. I have over 600 Windows machines to keep track of at work and I have NO desire to fuss with it at home. Just want to get stuff done. And….. I do!
    Lucid Lynx boots to a working desktop in 16 seconds after the BIOS hand-off on a C2D 3GHz box. Want it to look like some other OS? No problem. Seasons don’t fear the Penguin. Neither should you. WUBI (Windows Ubuntu installer) for the win if you need that security blanket.

  29. Dallas says:

    Google is testing their cloud computing paradym on their campus. It will take a while to get the kinks out but this is not quite ready for mass deployment. Chrome OS won’t be ready until late 2011 but i agree MS needs to be a little worried.

  30. Greg Allen says:

    >> Awake said, on June 1st, 2010 at 8:58 am
    >> I thought that Google was full of computer geniuses, but they can’t secure their own corporate network?

    Is it possible to secure a large network of Windows computers?

    I’m asking an honest question… anyone know?

    My impression is that web surfing employees are constantly putting the network at risk. Is this right?


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