With 20,000+ employees, Google is set to save millions of dollars in licensing costs. Microsoft has really cryptic licensing rules, so coming up with an exact savings number would be almost impossible, but for sure it's a huge chunk of change.
Google is giving employees a choice between Mac or PC/Linux -- the reason apparently isn't cost, but security. Google still has a bitter taste in their mouth since the Chinese Government snuck their way into computers through a flaw in Internet Explorer 6, and gained access to really sensitive information.
Though their cited reason is security, I'm also betting there were some other reasons discussed before the decision was made. Some of the actual reasons behind the move probably included:
2) Dogfooding Chrome OS
3) Money Savings
4) Stick it to Microsoft
Yes, even though it's probably not really their primary reason, security is a real issue at Google. As long as people are using Windows inside the company, there are going to be some employees using IE 6 -- not exactly a good idea today. Also, since Microsoft Windows is the #1 desktop operating system, malware naturally targets it. It's true that other operating systems have viruses too (like Mac OS), but there are less.
Dogfood Chrome OS
As the fall gets closer, Google needs to start using their own operating system in-house -- what they call dogfooding. Without months of real-life use of Chrome OS, the release will not be as smooth as it could be.
There is lots of money to be saved by ditching Windows. Those licensing costs are likely absolutely sickening for anyone looking over expenses. Moving away from Windows is actually more feasible for Google than most software development companies -- they are not dependent on Microsoft Visual Studio to do their development work. Everything they do is web-based (using Java or Python) -- both of which ca be developed really easily using MacOS and Linux.
Stick it to Microsoft
For every license they don't purchase, Microsoft loses money. Not only will they lose 20,000+ licenses for Windows at Google, other companies will take a look at this and possibly consider doing the same thing at their companies. Most won't bite, but there will definitely be a handful -- and it adds up quick.
A statement like this is big news, and easy press. Yes, I'm guilty!
Let's hear your take on the situation in the Talk Back!