Who Needs Windows? Google Starts Putting Their Computers Where Their Mouth Is

I’m not sure Google has ever come out and said that they hope the future of computing doesn’t involve Windows. But we all know they’re thinking it. However, while they may think that way, it’s been hard to take that too seriously since most of the computers they do their work on likely run Windows. In the near future though, that may not be the case.

A new report tonight in the Financial Times suggests that Google is steering its employees away from using Microsoft’s dominant operating system in the workplace. In fact, the reports says that, “New hires are now given the option of using Apple’s Mac computers or PCs running the Linux operating system.” And it states that getting a computer running Windows may require permission as high up as Google’s CIO.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some of this downplayed by Google over the next few days (the sources are all anonymous employees rather than spokespeople). But I also wouldn’t be surprised if it’s entirely true. Google does believe that it was vulnerabilities in Windows that lead to the infamous Chinese hacking incident earlier this year (which subsequently led them to pull out of China). They undoubtedly know that while they may have closed one hole, many others exist, and it’s only a matter of time until another incident happens again.

That is, unless they switch to one of the OSes much less popular with both users and hackers alike (and generally thought to be more secure): OS X and Linux. So that’s apparently what they’re trying to do.

Obviously, they’ll still have Windows machines around to test their services on. But what will be interesting to see is if Google continues their fairly standard PC-first, Mac/Linux-second roll-out strategy for new services (Chrome being one example). Google still needs their products to reach the most amount of eyeballs, and that still means Windows.

Google has been taking aim at Microsoft for years now. Google Docs, Gmail, Chrome, are some of their most obvious shots at Microsoft products. But even Android was originally sort of a way to attack Windows (by way of attacking Windows Mobile, and ensuring Microsoft didn’t maintain a foothold in the mobile space). And then, of course, there’s the upcoming Chrome OS.

Chrome OS will be Google’s most direct attack on Microsoft’s soul yet. It’s an operating system that you can run your computer off of without needing Windows at all. In Google’s mind, this is the future. Everything will be run through the browser, and besides a few locally stored things, everything will be in the cloud. There is no traditional software.

Such a future isn’t feasible for most users yet, but as Macs continue to gain popularity, a move to OS X increasingly is. By embracing OS X (and Linux) for work, Google seems to be leading by example. The message is that the alternative OSes are the preferred hold-overs until the Chrome OS dream can be fully realized.