Google is one of the biggest players in the IT industry. In the past its thousands employees had free choice of what OS to use on their laptops and desktop machines. And though for the mainframe machines specially designed Linux distributions were a necessity, for normal day to day office work many preferred Windows OS versions and Microsoft Office suite.
That was until recently Chinese hackers, using Windows security design flaw, gathered mass of “bots” – seriously infected computers they could remote control, and used this “botnet” to launch a full scale cyber attack on Google – both in China, and all over the world. This seems to have led to hard, but bold decision – new employees of Google around the globe are only allowed to install Windows on some laptops not connected to the network, and CIO permission must be granted for this, if it is needed for their job. Others are required to choose either Mac OS X, or some Linux distribution, and use Google’s own software (for normal office tasks) whenever possible.
The question is – will this move of one of the biggest players make others follow? Well, not necessary, as we will see. First – the Linux, as main competitor, is open source system. This means, you can write and rewrite parts of its core, the so called “kernel”, to suit your security needs, and patch security flaws. The problem – system programming is for “ace” programmers. These cost much, even with the crisis and IT sector problems. If the company is big enough, and has access to good programmers, such corrections in the OS kernel can be done relatively easy, fast and cheap. The end result may be fully customized operation system, achieving any goal needed by the company.
But what if we are talking about smaller company? It has to outsource the job, make specifications of changes needed, check the work done and hope no security backdoors pass through the testing process. In such occasion, the better bet may be to regularly update existing Windows OS, and hope every security flaw will be fixed overtime. This may even reduce the TCO (total cost of ownership), because the standard Windows machine is easier to administrate by not so well prepared administrator, than a highly customized Linux version.
There is also another point – the end user. The clerk, who had used Windows based software for last 10 years, will have to be either reeducated, or replaced by new employee, as the habits remaining from the old days will be hard to replace. The software used in the day to day work will have to be replaced with one written for the new OS too. Though this will not cost much, as Microsoft Office’s main rivals are open source, but problems may arise later, that will require specialized help – which as a matter of fact may be available for free, but there is no guarantee for that.
To sum all up – if security flaws are the only problem that you think makes replacement of the OS necessary, and you do not have good system programmers and system administrators working for you, double think the decision – it may actually not be worth it.