So, word has been getting around that Google is officially dropping support
for Microsoft Windows internally. Computers running Microsoft Windows are
going to be phased out for Linux and OSX machines. Honestly… Who didn’t see
Google has stated many times that the default operating system for Googlers is a heavily modified Long Term Support (LTS) version of Ubuntu Linux, affectionately named “Goobuntu”. While this modified distribution has never been released outside of Google, it is in wide use and support there, and hardly a secret. That said, Windows machines aren’t being done away with entirely, Google has stated that employees that really need to use Windows can acquire special permissions to use the operating system. Lets take this from a fresh angle: If all you really know how to use is Windows, you probably shouldn’t be working at Google.
Lets think logically about what Google really needs Windows machines for: Windows development. Sure, they have Picasa, Desktop Search, Earth, and a few other cross-platform apps that they need to build and test on versions of Windows, but these things can easily be accomplished inside a virtual environment. The vast majority of Google’s focus right now is split between Chrome OS (Linux), Android (Linux), and the web, and if recent trends have shown us anything, its that Google is interested in moving away from desktop applications altogether. Google has proven that they can take big technologies and move them to the web, and that’s exactly what they are focused on. Microsoft’s mission used to be “A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software.”, and Google has taken a much more open stance in theirs, what their mission should be is: “A browser on every device, with every person, using Google products.”
If Google were a software company first-and-foremost, this would be a huge deal, but they just aren’t. Google is focused on providing platforms and services for other people to utilize and build on. Android development tools exist for every platform, and, from a personal point of view, development on Linux platforms tend to be much nicer than Windows or OSX. By keeping Apple machines around, Google is showing that they will still be developing applications for the iPad and iPhone. This is extremely important. Google doesn’t want to limit who can use their products, so having a presence on their biggest competitor’s device is a wonderful strategy. Google isn’t interested in limiting themselves, and being browser-based is the cornerstone of their ideals.
It does seem like Google is setting a precedent for other companies as well. Showing other technology businesses that they can be free from licensing and closed, bug-ridden software. If one of the biggest technology companies in the world can do without Microsoft Windows, anyone can. This move to make their unreliance on Windows official and public seems like a power play to the rest of the industry, setting an example and forging the first path away from Windows. I’m all for more businesses relying on Linux, it will do huge amounts of good for the open source ecosystem and mentality.
Like I said before, I’m really floored that people are surprised over this, everyone should have seen this coming. Only time will tell if other companies are willing to follow Google’s example and give up their Windows addiction.