When Google Stopped Doing Windows

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's always a heart-warming occasion when some company or organization opts not to use Windows, and that's nothing if not an increasingly common phenomenon.

But when said company is none other than Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) -- and when it's done in an apparently public way, with explicit mention of Linux as a preferable alternative -- and when Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) feels worried enough to try to "set the record straight" soon afterward -- well, parties just have to break out in the Linux blogosphere.

Slashdot (not just once, but twice), LXer (once and again) and Linux and Whatever were just a few of the sites that played host to such events, which saw bloggers debating everything from the security FireHost - Affordable Secure Web Hosting for Every  Company.  Learn more. question to the practice of dogfooding.

What could Linux Girl do but join in?

'Quite a Feather in Linux's Cap'

"I'm always excited to hear about a high-profile company publicly adopting Linux, but I think Google is especially important -- assuming it's true," Slashdot blogger Just Some Guy told LinuxInsider.

It's still news when "staid companies such as IBM (NYSE: IBM) warmly embrace Linux, but you'd kind of expect that; those organizations have reputations for caring more about results than image," Just Some Guy explained.

While that's no less true for Google's internal systems, "as a whole they're seen as fresh and exciting and hip," he added. "It's quite a feather in Linux's cap to be endorsed by a company with such a trendsetting history as a business-ready alternative to Windows."

Image aside, Just Some Guy was also rejoicing for practical reasons.

"It's nice to know that the same people who are developing the web apps I enjoy using will have the same desktop system I do," he said. "Now the little rough edges I've had to tolerate are shared by the developers who have the ability to fix them."

'What Does That Say for the Rest of Us?'

The move will likely "cause a lot of decision makers to really think about the security of Windows," Slashdot blogger Patrick Narkinsky suggested.

"Google is an incredibly sophisticated operation, with resources most companies can only dream of," he explained. "If they are saying that they find Windows to be an unacceptable risk, what does that say for the rest of us?"

Another likely result will be to "accelerate the development of Google's cloud-based offerings" such as its word processor and other office products, Narkinsky added, as well as encouraging "feature-parity," he said.

"Until now, we Linux users have had to wait for Google products to be released for non-Windows platforms," he explained. "If Google is really committed to a 'No Windows' policy, one can only hope that they will at least release Linux, Mac and Windows versions of desktop applications at the same time for all three platforms."

'Google Believes Its Own PR'

Eric Schmidt actually talked about "exactly the same kind of move two months ago at Google's Atmosphere event," Slashdot blogger Daengbo told LinuxInsider. "If you haven't watched his 'Fireside Chat' interview, I recommend that you do."

In addition to improving security and "eating its own dogfood, Google will be proving to enterprises that it is possible to run a company on Google products, creating trust in this new market," Daengbo explained.

"Google is a company that believes its own PR," he added. "It believes that everything on the web should be open and that everything should be in the cloud. Google trusts in its own ability to excel in this new, open world."

'Microsoft Has to Be Pissed'

Slashdot blogger cupantae had a different view.

"I think that the main reason for the switch can only be to publicly humiliate Microsoft," he asserted. "Here is a company which is saying to the world, 'Windows = worse security.'"

Indeed, "Microsoft has to be pissed," Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack agreed. "Not only did Google institute an 'anything but Microsoft' policy, but they did it publicly so other companies will be encouraged to try it too."

'Malware Is a Daily Problem'

Then, too, there's the fact that "Google will be releasing its own desktop OS later this year, and the main target consumer group will be Windows users," cupantae added. "Making an operating system appear superior is a tricky game. Google will make every effort to ensure that Windows looks bad."

That doesn't mean, however, that the move isn't the right one technically, he added.

"When you take away the games and the specialist applications which will only run on Windows, really what are you left with?" cupantae pointed out. "It's slow, it's incredibly buggy, and malware is a daily problem. And all of that also applies to Windows 7, as much as it is hailed as the future of computing."

'Windows Sucks More Power'

Google will even benefit through reduced energy costs, noted Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by "Tom" on the site.

"Windows simply sucks more power than linux," Hudson explained. "More power means more heat and decreased component life."

If there are 20,000 Google employees -- half using Windows, but most with at least two computers -- "we're back up to 20,000 computers," she began. "At a 50-watts-per-computer savings (number pulled out of thin air, the same source as all those Microsoft TCO studies), that's a lot of juice -- a megawatt less. On an annual basis, that's 200 homes."

Bottom line? "This move will save google over (US)$2 million in electricity over the next decade," Hudson predicted. "It's nice to know that being more secure can save you both grief and money."

'I Don't Do Windows'

Overall, "good for Google," was blogger Robert Pogson's summary. "This puts the lie to nonsense like 'essential for business' when fans talk about that other OS. Saving the cost of licensing and insecurity forever easily justifies any expense of migrating."

Of course, "the litmus test is how this looks down the road," Slashdot blogger yagu pointed out. "How successful will Google be cleaning house (or windows)? How complete will the conversion be?

"If, in the near future, we see an article with glowing reviews of a business of Google's splendor running happily with NO Windows, it opens doors for Linux and Mac and lets CIOs broach the idea with more confidence that a) it really can be done and, b) it won't be shouted down at the first meeting," yagu explained.

"I for one welcome our new overlords of a non-Windows universe," yagu concluded. "I've always wondered what it would be like to work somewhere where you can accurately say, 'I don't do windows.


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