Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

Summary: Google pulls the plug on Windows PCs for security reasons but, in an increasingly competitive environment, is this another attack on the future of Windows OS?

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It comes as no surprise that Google would want its employees to use its products, including the forthcoming Chrome OS. But months before the operating system is released publicly, the company has reportedly started pulling the plug on internal use of Windows computers. going so far as to require special permission to use Microsoft's OS.

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A Financial Times report late Monday cited "several Google employees," who say the shift was accelerated by security concerns following the hacking attack that prompted Google to shut down its China site earlier this year. The report says that new hires are given the option of a Mac or Linux-based PC as their company-issued computer. It also quotes some employees who say that uproar at Google over the phase-out of Windows has been far less than it might have been if the company had pulled the plug on Apple products.

I realize that it's only one company - a soon-to-be-competitor, no less - but I can't help but wonder if this move by Google is a sign of worse things to come for Microsoft, as it relates to the future of the Windows operating system. I only raise the point because this FT report reminded me of a blog post by Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps last week in which she explores Microsoft's position in the tablet game and the company's need for an answer to the iPad - from an OS point-of-view.

In it, she talks about the concept of "curated computing," a style of personal computing where choice is limited but relevance is abundant. That, of course, is the iPad model, which she refers to as jukebox style computing. But, there's no reason Microsoft can't - and shouldn't - also come up with a curated computing device to go head-to-head with the iPad, especially if it can tether with the Xbox to create a digital living room that the company has envisioned for years.

Back in April, Microsoft pulled the plug on Courier, a folding tablet/booklet device that was reportedly in “late prototype” last fall. That's unfortunate, Rotman Epps writes, because the company needs to be in this ball game - for the sake of the OS. She writes:

At stake for Microsoft is no less than the future of the OS: For Microsoft to remain relevant to consumers, it needs to adapt its operating system to new form factors beyond the traditional PC. Forrester estimates that tablets will outsell netbooks in the US starting in 2013, and tablets will constitute 20% of all PC sales in the US in 2015. Microsoft needs its operating system on those tablets. Now it needs to convince its partners — and consumers — that they need Microsoft, too.

Certainly, I don't think a decision by Google to pull the plug on internal use of Windows machines spells the end for the OS. After all, Windows is a security risk because it's so deeply entrenched into the world of personal and business computing. Tech bad guys tend to target the biggest audience of users - and that's Windows.

But the growing popularity of the Mac, as well as computers that are Linux-based, and now the upcoming launch of Chrome, does put some increased pressure on Microsoft. Investors are already feeling shaky about the company's missteps on the mobile front and now the OS is coming under attack, as well.

Update: Microsoft's corporate communications chief Frank X. Shaw has some fun with the FT story on his personal Twitter account. He notes that Google is going Google---nothing more nothing less. Among some of the more entertaining tweets:

  • news flash: Google boards up all windows in its global HQ, citing security concerns. Must credit FT.
  • News flash: Google bans ford cars using Sync from its parking lot, citing security issues. Must credit FT.
  • News flash: Google bans Bing from its computers. Must credit FT. Picture on Bing home page is distracting to G engineers.

Topics: Software, Google, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Tablets, Windows

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  • I am personally flabbergasted ...

    ... at how MS is using old, failed, tablet technology against the iPad. Instead of MS adapting Windows Phone 7 technology to tablets, it is using vanilla Windows CE 7 and Windows 7 with their ancient interfaces. Please! Also if Windows 8 does not have an optional built-from-the-ground-up touch interface and app store, God help MS when the Mac does. It will be a blood bath.
    P. Douglas
    • RE: Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

      @P. Douglas Sometime during the eighties, a pc magazine writer stated that the mainframe was dead. PCs were on the path of speed and productivity to make mainframes obsolete and irrelevant. I laughed - out loud (this was before texting and lol were commonplace). The mainframe is still here and will still be here for many years to come. Corporate America (and large corporations around the world)drives the continued need for the mainframe and the same holds true for Microsoft Os (Windows) to control PCs. Yes there are many Linux installations and even many Macs. They are not going to take over just yet. I have been in this business for close to 50 years and have seen many things touted as the only 'real' path. Billions (Trillions?) of dollars have been invested in the mainframe Windows PC connection and big money does not move because it is 'neat'. IBM learned the lesson that building something that was not readily accepted by large corporations was not going to work. PS2 failed to gain acceptance because it was 'different'. Get real. Money drives this and every other business and it is just not going to happen.
      sysdev1
      • I was talking about the consumer market

        @sysdev@...

        Actually my comments were referring to the consumer market. It is true that Windows can largely remain the same (in particular its UI) for businesses, but the same does not hold true for the consumer market. Competition in the consumer market is much more vibrant, and user experience is largely what people respond to. That is why MS' Windows Phone 7 effort has received nearly universal praise, and Windows Mobile 6.5 was universally panned. Now the most obvious target of tablets is the consumer market, and MS is making a Windows Mobile 6.5 type move in response to the iPad, which has shown the most remarkable UI innovation in PCs in decades. This makes absolutely no sense to me; it sends the signal that MS really doesn't get the importance of design in the consumer market; and this adds to people's doubts about the viability of MS in the consumer market, which weighs negatively on its stock price. Further, if / when Apple comes out with a touch user interface for the Mac, and MS doesn't for the PC, Apple will gobble up market share and income from MS in the consumer market. This will lead to a steady revenue decline for Windows, and between MS' numbers and investors' perception of MS' ability to compete in the consumer market, could have a significant impact on MS' stock price. MS' problem could be further exacerbated by the enterprise's tendency to become cold or warm up to MS products based on how the consumer market responds to the company. So while it is true that MS' behavior in the enterprise is largely fine, the company's failure to demonstrate that it recognizes the importance of user experience across all its consumer market efforts, is cause for concern regarding the company's long term welfare.
        P. Douglas
      • RE: Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

        @sysdev@... What's a mainframe... Are you kidding? You may have laughed, but mainframes have been releagated to being big file servers. Where are dumb terminals now? They are gone. Effectively mainframes are gone too The infrastructire continues to change whether you personally accept it or not.
        Rich_F
      • RE: Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

        @sysdev@...
        There was also the "Unix is dead" mantra being repeated by every mindless tech reporter (mostly PC Magazine) ... and we know how that turned out.

        BTW, I don't think the PS/2 failed because it was "different"; it was ill-conceived. You had to completely burn your investment in everything you already had - MCA ... micro channel architecture. Ok, it was technically sound and superior, but you had to throw away all your ISA cards. Along came EISA and it gained acceptance. Even though it was different, it was compatible.
        davidr69
      • RE: Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

        @sysdev@... "Sometime during the eighties, a pc magazine writer stated that the mainframe was dead. PCs were on the path of speed and productivity to make mainframes obsolete and irrelevant."

        That probably was me, but that was not what I said then. I did not say large systems would disappear and be replaced by PCs. I said that traditional mainframes, based on proprietary hardware and running proprietary operating systems were a dying species that would be replace by a new breed of large systems built using standard components and running standard operating systems (like UNIX/Linux). That is, in fact, pretty much what has happened since the 80s, in one way or another.

        Will Zachmann
        Canopus Research Inc.
        www.canopusresearch.com
        wfz1
      • RE: Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

        @Rich_F@... Rich, I'd say sysdev has a pretty good grasp. I've been in the business a few years myself (WAY too many) and I always love how people say the "mainframe" is gone. Yes, they do make very good high-powered file servers, but I can point you to a lot of companies that may not have the good old dumb terminals, but they DO have a bunch of PCs running terminal emulation to use the mainframe's programming.

        Some day the mainframe may die, but it is still hanging in there for now.
        ComputerDinosaur
      • RE: Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

        @Rich_F@... not sure where you are, but Mainframes are far from dead, and are much more than "big file servers" in fact many of our large databases still run on mainframes, since the windoze servers just arent fast enough to keep up with the load. the "dumb terminals" have been replaced by PC's with terminal emulation software, granted they arent the money maker they once were, but most big companies still run mainframes...
        nickdangerthirdi
      • RE: Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

        @sysdev@... I view the tablet as not "neat". I view it as the next step. It only needs a place to sync/charge that has a keyboard and it could replace my flat screen monitor with a walk around computer that I can take with me everywhere on the job and bring it back drop it in the cradle, use it for a monitor with my normal office keyboard and bring up files (wired) to the server instead of off of the wireless access points.

        It is VERY feasible these could take over extremely fast and literally blow people away with the speed at which it could happen. They could be integrated with built in RFID chips or other methods to set off the alarm if removed from the building. If they used a card slot to activate them using chips or biometrics, stolen ones could be extremely difficult to do anything with for the average user. Depending on the method it could be an illegal activity just to post information on how to get around it by invoking the DMCA.

        I think you don't see the bigger picture here.
        blueskip
      • Master Joe Says...Good Point

        @sysdev@... You make a valid point. People can try and debate with you on this, but those who really do know more than their own little corner of the tech world will agree because you are right. Not only that, but this article is WAY overblown and over-dramatic. I agree with some of the comments above, that Microsoft should be using the Zune OS for tablet, rather than Windows 7 or CE. But, in the OS market, Windows is king, and that isn't going to change in the next decade. While it could very well change SOMEDAY, that day isn't upon us. I have read, on ZDNet, an article, at least once a year for every year since 2005, that "this is the year of the Linux desktop". Five years later, and Linux has yet to become the #2 OS, let alone #1.

        In addition, someone mentioned that if Windows 8 doesn't have an "AppStore," they are dead. Are you kidding me? There is more free software out there for windows right now than Mac could ever hope to offer. I can prove it, considering I have quite a lot of the useful stuff listed on my own web site, steelcitypc.com . But, the bottom line is this. Tablets are not the "next step." They, like netbooks, are a niche. There are always going to be people who want a monitor, keyboard, tower, hard drive, etc., for a variety of reasons. The first is multimedia and entertainment. In addition to the fact that no tablet on the market today, or for quite some time, rivals the power of a desktop or notebook computer. Second, a lot of people use the Windows 7 Media Center as a home entertainment system central point. They watch Blu-ray movies on their computer, watch TV on their computer, listen to music on their computer, etc. For these things, sound quality (speaker system) and screen quality AND size (make a 24"+ tablet and see how many people carry that around) DO matter. The "hip" or "trendy" thing now is not what matters. I've said it before. Windows has proven that it can withstand the test of time. Has the iPhone, the iPad, the iPod, or even Mac OS X? No. Throughout the 90s, Apple spent most of its time praying for a lifeboat to come along and pull them out of their sinking ship. So, just because they have gained a lot of ground in some industries now doesn't mean they have taken a place of dominance. Probably 80%, if not more, of their success is based on being "cool," not quality. Wha thappens when something else "cool" comes along? Google is in a position to make that happen with Android, just as Microsoft is with Windows Phone 7. There are a lot of variables here. Everyone is so quick to jump to conclusions, and so quick to try and conveniently "forget" all of the data that doesn't support their claim. Only time will tell.

        --Master Joe
        SteelCityPC
      • Sony PS2? ...a failure? lol :D

        @sysdev@... You are kidding right? or are you confused on your product models. PS2 is the widest distributed Game Console in the World ever. Now around 170 million sold and still selling. PS1 sold over 100 million. PS3 is not that far behind Xbox 360 and is expected to overtake them next year. Wii is now twindling in sales.

        Worldwide sales figures
        Wii ? 70.78 million as of 10 May 2010
        Xbox 360 ? 40 million as of 1 April 2010
        PlayStation 3 ? 35.7 million as of 10 May 2010

        Now aside from that, as far as Windows doing a cold turkey or disappearing act because one company pulls their Windows PC's is farcical. Even when IBM announced they weren't going to renew their Windows licenses (after selling their PC division to Lenovo), the sky didn't fall on Microsoft. Right now Windows 7 is doing great and I'm a Linux geek who also uses Windows.

        So yeah.... P Daddy Douglass is off his rocker. Windows 7 has a great interface and is the best Windows yet. He's still off his rocker with iPad being so "Magical and Revolutionary"! lol

        I had a Archos DMD in 2002, before Apple morphed the iPod music player only in 2005 (and it couldn't surf the web until 2008) using iPhone OS. Archos played videos, music and you could surf the web. So how is iPad so new and revolutionary over decades? ....it's just a giant iPod! Douglass is delusional much!!! ;)
        i2fun
      • RE: Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

        @Rich_F... Mainframes are simply powerful computers, and as such they continue to be useful. As useful as that other ancient tech UNIX, which underlies the Mac OS and Linux. Mainframes have adapted, both by changing their core OS, and by running alternatives such as Linux (of which IBM is a big supporter). And companies that require their power continue to use them. But don't expect to find "dumb terminals". Yes, as others have said, terminals do live on via emulators. But mainframes haven't been limited to that UI since the arrival of the IBM PC a quarter century ago.

        Point your web browser Log on to Schwab.com or Citibank.com and enjoy your mainframe experience.
        Spatha
      • @i2fun

        I think they meant to say OS2 and not PS2. That itself speaks volumes about their knowledge.
        Bozzer
      • RE: Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

        @sysdev@... While I have no argument against the bumper-sticker wisdom of "Money drives this and every other business...", my only remark is: MS has peddled beta-versions for decades. Otherwise, how do we explain the fact that all their OS products require weekly, if and when not daily, updates. Bottom line, MS never really offered a finished OS product.
        asei09
      • <a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/f81.html">blackberry</a>

        @sysdev@... I have no issue with the functionality of MS' underlying OS. My issue is with MS' apparent inabiliy to recognize that this is not enough in the consumer market, and that it can improve its performance in the business market by looking at UE and other considerations.
        frank dib
      • <a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/f82.html">iphone</a>

        @sysdev@... What I'm looking for is a box where you actually have the choice of subtracting the Windows license cost (with, or without, adding another OS onto it).
        frank dib
      • <a href="http://www.altincilek.tk">altin cilek</a>

        Billions (Trillions?) of dollars have been invested in the mainframe Windows PC connection and big money does not move because it is 'neat'. IBM learned the lesson that building something that was not readily accepted by large corporations was not going to work. PS2 failed to gain acceptance because it was 'different'. Get real. Money drives this and every other business and it is just not going to happen.
        gaberdiye
    • RE: Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

      @P. Douglas
      ZDnet printed an article in July 2000 "The Death of Microsoft Office", and December 2004 "The Year of Desktop Linux". It's fun to speculate on the in-with-the-new-etc, but don't forget Microsoft was counted out when the Netscape browser looked poised to control our hearts and minds. Time will tell if MS can adapt.

      Also, don't make the mistake of mixing the OS with the UI. Under the covers the Zune, Windows Phone 7, and the my old Dell Axim all run different versions of the very-capable-but-needing-more-corporate-attention Windows Mobile OS. And I run Windows 7 with an inexpensive multi-touch monitor that I got from Dell, so you don't have to wait for Windows 8 ;)
      batpox
      • MS can do well, but it has to recognize what it is doing wrong

        @batpox

        I agree that MS usually changes course in time to avert disaster. To a large extent, the reason why Office is doing well, is because of its server / Internet services extensions, and its superior User Experience (UE) over browser based competitors. The main reason why Windows is doing so well now, is because of attention paid to improving its UE - and also marketing. Windows now enjoys the advantage of its gigantic momentum, established from long ago, and also UE improvements and marketing. But in markets where MS cannot leverage Windows, it does not do so well. These are various efforts within the broader consumer market. They include mobile, tablets, TVs, and set top boxes. Apple has established repeatedly that success can be had using UE, marketing, and services - and in particular taking a holistic approach to all three. MS cannot incrementally improve its Windows OS in many of these areas and hope to succeed, because either Windows cannot be used, or there are limitations to how far Windows can be extended away from its core function and UE.

        As I see it therefore, for MS to succeed in its various efforts using Windows CE in the consumer market, it has to rely heavily on bringing out highly innovative UEs, as well as marketing and services. My complaint is that it is not doing so with its tablet efforts. Instead it is going back to its failed Windows CE approaches of the past. Also extending Windows with tablet features / touch support, significantly strains its competitiveness in the tablet market, because Windows' ecosystem offers little support for these extensions. There are virtually no applications that richly support these features. Also there is no marketing and supporting services. So MS pitting Windows 7 with touch / tablet features against the iPad, is kind of like the military pitting Air Force One against Mig fighters. Windows 7 doesn't have anything close to the agility and holistic development and support of the iPad, therefore it has virtually no chance of winning, or even coming close to doing well in the tablet market.

        I have no issue with the functionality of MS' underlying OS. My issue is with MS' apparent inabiliy to recognize that this is not enough in the consumer market, and that it can improve its performance in the business market by looking at UE and other considerations.
        P. Douglas
    • RE: Google dumps Windows; Is Microsoft's OS headed down a troubled path?

      @P. Douglas You're right, but it won't be Mac. It will be Google that Microsoft and Apple will need to be worried about. The Android and Chrome platforms will run over them like a herd of wild buffalo.
      blueskip