Microsoft, Partners Fire Back At Google Over Windows Ban

Over the weekend, the Financial Times reported that new Google hires can choose between Macs or Linux PCs, but can't get Windows PCs without CIO approval. According to the report, Google had already been planning to move away from Windows and sped up its plans after the Aurora attack last year in China, which targeted a zero day vulnerability in Internet Explorer.

It's an oddly phrased leak from Google, which is gearing up to launch Chrome OS and could have simply put the word out that it wants to standardize on its own products, just as Microsoft "dog-foods" its offerings. Instead, Google is playing the damsel-in-distress role and claiming that Windows' inherent security flaws gave it little choice in the matter.

Arguments against Windows security may have been accurate in the past, but Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions, a solution provider in Fresno, Calif., says Microsoft has "really stepped up to the plate" in recent years when it comes to security.

"It’s ludicrous to blame it on Windows. Any system can be cracked and there is nothing inherently less secure about current Microsoft operating systems," said Duffy.

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Microsoft responded to the Google Windows ban rumors by noting that Yale University postponed a planned migration to Gmail and Google Apps due to security and privacy concerns. Microsoft also isn't accepting the Financial Times' claim that Windows is more susceptible to hacking and malware.

"The facts don’t support the assertion," said Brandon LeBlanc, communications manager on the Windows Client Team, in a Tuesday blog post.

"When it comes to security, even hackers admit we’re doing a better job making our products more secure than anyone else. And it’s not just the hackers; third party influentials and industry leaders like Cisco tell us regularly that our focus and investment continues to surpass others."

Bob Nitrio, CEO of Ranvest Associates, an Orangevale, Calif.-based technology consultant, says by eschewing Windows, Google runs the risk of not being able to deliver every application essential to its workforce via Linux or a Web-based interface.

"You may save time and money by not dealing with Microsoft security concerns, but are you really ahead if you handicap employees when it comes to the tools they need to be productive and effective," Nitrio said.

Windows Vista was a disaster, but the OS did usher in a new Microsoft approach to security that has carried over to Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8. And since IE6 was one of the main vectors in the Aurora attack, there's a question of why Google was running such an outdated Web browser at all, said Duffy.

"How can Microsoft be blamed when users don’t take advantage of the security solutions that they have provided to protect them?" Duffy said.