Google Cuts Down On Use Of Microsoft Windows

It's been reported that Google is ordering new employees to no longer use the Windows operating system. Instead, they must use Apple's operating system or Linux. The move reportedly is due to inherent security problems with Windows. Steve Fox, editorial director for PC World, talks to Deborah Amos about Microsoft Windows and security.

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DEBORAH AMOS, host:

In other news from the Microsoft-Google battlefront, the Financial Times reported earlier this month that Google has ordered new employees not to use Microsoft Windows' operating system. Google wouldnt comment on that report.

The newspaper says Google is phasing out Windows for security reasons, and it sited a network attack by Chinese hackers.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: Steve Fox's position was incorrectly stated. He is editorial director at PC World.]

To find out more, we called Steve Fox. He's an editor with PC magazine.

Welcome to the program.

Mr. STEVE FOX (Editorial Director, PC World): Thanks for having me.

AMOS: So how much do you think this is a business decision?

Mr. FOX: I think a lot of this is a business decision. This is a way for Google to very delicately - hmm, let's say, extend its middle finger towards its friends up north in Redmond, at Washington. These guys compete. This is...

AMOS: Where Microsoft is based.

Mr. FOX: Exactly. So these guys are competing. They compete on every front you can imagine - their search, where Google is clearly the top dog, but Bing is working to make inroads. They're fighting it out on the application front. These guys are just going hammer and tongs at one another, and it's about to open on a new front, and that's operating systems. When Chrome OS comes out, it certainly makes some sense for Google to be pulling away from Microsoft. In this case, there's all kinds of battles to be won here.

AMOS: Microsoft has about 90 percent of the market for operating systems. Does this Google policy damage Microsoft in any way?

Mr. FOX: Well, its more of a black eye. Microsoft prides itself on being the operating system for everyone. And when you have the dominant player in a lot of technologies - including search - suddenly announcing that they will not be using Windows because they feel it's an insecure platform, there is a black-eye element here.

AMOS: And do you think by neither confirming or denying the story, that they're moving away from Microsoft on security issues, that it's an attempt to remind consumers that that vulnerability is there?

Mr. FOX: It's hard to know what's in the mind - the collective mind - of Google, but this does certainly surface an issue that is a weak point for Microsoft. Microsoft has done very good work, I would say, in the last year on security, with Windows 7, with IE8. But let's face it, everybody knows - and it's been talked about for quite some time - that this is not Microsoft's greatest strength.

AMOS: Do you think this is part of a campaign, this is the opening that Google has been looking for, that China's security issue is simply a way to announce that they are moving away from Microsoft?

Mr. FOX: Yes, I think it's partly an excuse. And I'm not saying it's a - necessarily a bad idea, but this is the first salvo in this new front in the operating system wars. I mean, there is some risk here for Micro - for Google, rather. Keep in mind, its users are still on Windows, and if suddenly youve got all of the Google employees not using the operating system that the vast majority of its users use, it would be very likely they could kind of lose touch with the user base and what it is they do. So there are certain risks here. There's also, obviously, some PR value and some chest-beating value here, as well.

AMOS: Thank you very much.

Mr. FOX: My pleasure.

AMOS: Steve Fox is an editor at PC World.

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Correction June 16, 2010

The audio version of this story incorrectly says, as did a previous Web version, that Steve Fox is an editor at PC Magazine. Fox is actually editorial director for PC World.

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