We first heard rumors of this policy change a couple of months ago, but now it's made the papers: the Financial Times is reporting that Google is phasing out the use of Windows internally, as employees are migrated to either Linux or Mac OS X on machine turnovers or new hires. The policy change was precipitated in large part by the security breach attributed to Chinese hackers; Google's IT leaders apparently feel that Microsoft's OS represents too great a risk across the enterprise to leave it in place.
The story says that in January, subsequent to the security breaches, Windows installations on desktop computers were no longer allowed, although laptops were still eligible for Windows at the employee's discretion. Many Google staffers, however, were already heading for the Mac as a security measure, and at this point things have been pretty well laid down in stone: "Getting a new Windows machine now requires CIO approval," according to one anonymous Googler quoted by the FT.
Google has long offered employees a choice of OS for their primary workstation, and some dissatisfaction with the new rules has been registered; however, the sentiment is apparently not that negative, considering the alternative possibilities. "It would have made more people upset if they banned Macs rather than Windows," says an unnamed employee. No doubt.
Business Insider suggests that Google's infrastructure represents about 20,000 Windows licenses that now will not be renewed or upgraded. Of course, the existing Wintel hardware will run Ubuntu Linux or the company's upcoming Chrome OS, but adding Mac OS X to the mix will mean purchasing Mac hardware. Maybe that's what the Steve-Eric Coffee Summit was about: truckloads of MacBook Pros heading for the Googleplex.
(As one commenter suggests below, this also means that malware developers may have new reason to focus their efforts on Mac OS X. Every silver lining has a cloud.)
[Hat tip to the Download Squad team]