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War of Words Over Google Decision to Drop Windows

News spread quickly earlier this week of Google's decision to no longer offer Windows as an option for employees to install on their desktop systems, instead only giving the options of OS X and Linux. Google's stated reasons for doing so were that it was based on providing their employees with greater security, something that became more of a public concern following the attacks against Google systems in China from earlier this year.

It is still possible to install Windows on an employee system, but to do so requires CIO approval, according to the Financial Times. This added imposition will certainly reduce the number of new Windows-OS based systems within the company. While it is normally argued that maintaining a heterogenous mix of operating systems and platforms is better overall for security, when one of the available platforms is a much greater target for attackers than others, it becomes a liability to the overall security of company systems and networks.

It is also reported that the move is one step towards the introduction of Google's own Chrome OS, which is being seen as a competitor to Windows and is set to be released late in the second half of the year. Ultimately, it is a case of Google eating its own dog food in the form of employees being able to and being seen to use Chrome OS as a viable operating system.

Microsoft didn't take long to provide a response to the press Google was gaining, focussing on the security aspect as being the primary reason for the move. Citing their security improvements over the last several years, such as the introduction of their Secure Development Lifecycle, making their "products more secure than anyone else", the counter-argument still seems to comes across with something lacking. It feels more of a defensive reply than a positive assertion of the capabilities of their platform and systems.

With a fairly rare example of OS X malware coming to the surface in the same period another piece of ammunition is provided to each side in the ongoing argument over relative system security and capability.

3 June 2010

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