Google is throwing Microsoft out the door, what does it mean to you?

Business Insider reported that Google has decided to stop using Microsoft products and are now giving its employees the option of either using Apple or Linux alternatives. While this news is worthy of coverage, and represents the loss of more than 20,000 Windows licenses to Microsoft, I doubt that many other companies will follow.

While the Microsoft operating system is far from perfect, and the Apple interface is clean and easy to use:

  • Apple computers cost more than PCs. This is true for desktops and laptops. Strike one.
  • There are more desktop IT staff trained and available to support a PC-based infrastructure. I have managed IT groups responsible for both and have always found it more difficult to find capable IT engineers for supporting Apple hardware. While they do exist there are fewer of them around and generally demand a higher salary. Strike two.
  • The Apple interface, while cleaner and easier to use than the PC, is a major change for many business users who already know how to use PCs. Easier or not, it is a new interface for many business users and there will be productivity losses in switching from PCs to Macs. Strike three.

While I could continue with my list making for a few hours it all boils down to cost. At the end of the day most businesses will find that a switch from PCs to Macs doesn’t make good business sense.

What do you think? Anyone disagree?


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Stephen Peteritas

Yeah I tend to think it’s not that big of a deal but still being dropped by Google can’t be spun as anything but bad.

Also just a sidenote I think the IT thing is huge. From what I’ve heard from IT people is that PC are a more open interface and that they are easier to customize and whatnot if you don’t fit into the mac cookie cutter. Therefore that could be huge in holding on to business down the road for large companies that need unique solutions.

Mel Still

Yes John .. I Disagree ..
Albeit Mac’s do cost more then a PC. Along with the cost associated with the purchase of a Mac. you get Quality Products & Exceptional Service (Manufactured by One company); found No Where With Microsoft. You Also Get No Trojans or viruses etc. ( Mac’s do get them .. but .. Apple has cured most of this type of bull Before it happens and an easy fix when and if it does.
The only thing that I can think of why you list Apple or Mac’s as strike one .. two and three is that you really Never Owned a Mac or have Never worked with or on one.
Mac’s do everything mac’s do Plus everything windows can do as well .. if Not Better.
If somebody wants a gaming machine .. they need to get a PC.
Mac’s are more about Quality then they are about Speed ..
Although Mac’s are better and faster but Not Compared for Gaming.
If somebody wants a REAL .. Professional .. Workable machine .. Get a Mac.
of course this is of my own opinion .. I have had both .. used both .. I’ll be sticking with my Mac.

John Moore

Thanks Mel. I have worked with Macs several times in my career and, as I noted, think the UI is great and actually like their ability to run virtualized Windows to get the core apps that business users are used too. They have made great strides and are a good business platform for those that are comfortable with them and with their costs.

However, with that said, cost of ownership, cost of IT staff, and reduction in productivity, even if only in the short-term, are real issues in my opinion.

Now, with that said, thanks for stating your disagreement as it is through disagreement that I hope we can all learn. How do you address the cost issue, especially to CIOs like me, and, just as important, to CFOs that control the budgets?

Firoze Lafeer

Well, I think most Google employees I’ve met are already using Macs or Linux laptops anyway, so I’m not sure how much this new policy changes anything. Google spends a lot of money on their employees, and as far as I know they’ve always had their choice of computers. And, of course, many (most as far as I’ve seen) choose Macs.

I know a lot of startups that don’t have full IT staffs for internal support, and that actually works fine with Macs. I’m not convinced at all that IT costs are higher with Macs. In fact, my experience has been that Mac teams require far less IT support, which more than offsets the higher cost of Mac IT people.

As for the cost of the computers themselves, I think that’s sort of trivial in the big picture. Once you have an employee sidelined for a few hours while IT reinstalls their OS, that quickly wipes out any savings you may have thought you had. Certainly the cost of a computer in 2010 is just a very tiny part of the overall cost of an employee, whether that computer is $500 or $1500.

John Moore

Thanks Firoze, appreciate the counter viewpoint. We have clearly had different experiences through our careers which is great. I’ve seen just as much maintenance with both types of hardware in the last five years (prior to that I would have agreed with you).

Anyway, appreciate the counterpoint.


Firoze Lafeer

Yeah, I hesitate to get into these Mac vs Windows or Android vs iPhone type discussions. Because ultimately people can be productive with both (or unproductive with both. :))

But the bigger point I was trying to make is that I don’t remember the last time I met someone from Google using Windows. So if this change in policy is in fact real, I think that’s how the employees have voted over the years anyway. As the FT article pointed out, if Google had banned Macs, then they’d have a real issue with their employees!

John Moore

That might be fun to watch Firoze. I hear your point, a point well made too. Perhaps this announcement is more of a PR move to slap Microsoft in the face than anything new then?