The tech universe is all abuzz today over the news that Google is dumping Windows for internal use, because the operating system is not secure enough to meet Google's lofty standards.
Google has more than 10,000 employees, so a complete move away from Windows would certainly deprive Microsoft of some much-needed licensing dollars, at a time when Apple has just passed Microsoft to become the world's most valuable tech company.
But in the long run, is this really a surprise, or even a big deal? Personally, I don't think it's surprising, but it is sort of a big deal.
Let me explain. Google poses the biggest long-term threat to Microsoft's dominance of business technology, with the possible exception of Apple. Google is already attacking Microsoft on the e-mail and collaboration front, by positioning Gmail, Google Docs, and the other "Google Apps" services as the future replacement of Microsoft Office.
Naturally, Google employees use Gmail and Google Docs internally. Why wouldn't they? Google also has its own web browser, called Chrome. I'm guessing more Google employees use Chrome than Internet Explorer.
Now, Google is also busy building its own operating system, Chrome OS. Google officials call it "our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be."
In the long run, would you expect Google to use Windows instead of its own operating system?
The Financial Times reported that Google decided to move off of Windows after January, when the company's Chinese operations were attacked by hackers. Google will initially move mainly toward the Mac, and Linux PCs.
Whether this switch will truly solve Google's security problems is up for debate. The Mac's security advantage over Windows stems partly from the fact that its market share is so skimpy that few hackers even build viruses targeted at the Mac.
But Google is a big target, giving hackers plenty of incentive to try harder. Blaming security problems on Windows is a cop-out, and adds fuel to the fire that is the Google vs. Microsoft rivalry, but it won't make the hackers go away.
Google thinks it can solve many security problems with Chrome OS (also known as Chromium OS). Google is almost synonymous with the web, so Chrome will put all applications into a web browser.
"Unlike traditional operating systems, Chrome OS doesn't trust the applications you run," Google says. "Each app is contained within a security sandbox making it harder for malware and viruses to infect your computer."
Once Chrome OS is ready for production, it stands to reason that Google will dramatically increase use of the new operating system internally. Moving from Windows to Mac would therefore simply be an intermediate step.
So, Google dumping its biggest rival's flagship product - Microsoft's Windows - shouldn't come as a big surprise.
What is a big deal is that Google's rejection of Windows and the project to create its own OS expands on Google's core ambition, which is to build every system conceivably necessary to perform computing tasks in a web-centric world.
Google builds its owns servers and data centers. Google builds its own web-based business software, and the web browser to run the applications in. So why not just build the whole operating system too?
We knew about Chrome OS well before today, but Google's rejection of Windows illustrates just how far the company is willing to go rewrite the rules in a technology world long ruled by Microsoft.
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Jon Brodkin writes about Microsoft, Google, browsers, operating systems, PCs, mobile devices, cloud computing, virtualization, open source and a bunch of other tech stuff for Network World. He also cares just a little bit too much about Boston sports teams. Follow Jon on Twitter @jbrodkin.
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