Report: Google scraps Windows over security issues

Google Inc. employees are slamming Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system, claiming security vulnerabilities in the OS left the company open to Chinese hackers in January 2010, a new report says. According to the Financial Times, Google will ditch the internal use of Windows in exchange for alternative operating systems including the Mac OS, Linux, and Google’s own forthcoming Chrome OS operating system.

The May 31 Financial Times article quotes only anonymous Google sources, identifying them as several of Google’s 10,000 employees. FT reporters David Gelles and Richard Waters write: “Employees wanting to stay on Windows required clearance from ‘quite senior levels’, one employee said. ‘Getting a new Windows machine now requires CIO approval,’ said another employee.”

Google officials have not tacitly denied the Windows ban on work computers, issuing the following statement to the Reuters news agency: “We’re always working to improve the efficiency of our business, but we do not comment on specific operational matters.”
The FT calls Google’s anti-Windows policy “semi-formal” and said that some laptops of “new hires” were still being outfitted with Windows, but all internal desktop PCs for these employees would run non-Windows based operating systems.

Microsoft’s dominant operating system Windows and its leading Web browser Internet Explorer have a reputation for being vulnerable to attacks. Security experts point out that Microsoft’s market share dominance promises malware developers a significantly higher return on investment than the Mac OS platform, which owns 5 percent of the OS market. Other operating systems (including Mac OS) and Web browsers — including Google’s own Chrome Web browser — have also suffered from security vulnerabilities.

Microsoft’s Windows operating system and its Internet Explorer browser were cited by Google earlier this year as contributing to Chinese hackers successfully hacking a number of Google-owned PCs and Gmail accounts. Security researchers said hackers used the back-door Hydraq Trojan to break into Google owned PCs and accounts. In January, Google claimed a China-originated attack let malicious hackers steal Google intellectual property and partially break into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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