Say goodbye to Google products working properly on Windows

The FT reported today that “Google is phasing out the internal use of Microsoft’s ubiquitous Windows operating system because of security concerns“. A lot of people are talking about the same tired and obvious aspects of this; Google pushing their own platforms, Windows being insecure, blah blah blah. I don’t care about that, especially since the benefits of Microsoft vs. Apple/Linux/whoever is one of those topics about which everyone who cares already has an opinion, and isn’t likely to change it.

What I want to point out is that this means Google products that run on the desktop will soon start to be utter garbage when run on Windows.

It is inevitable that without Windows machines in the corporate IT estate, Windows development will not matter as much to the company. When your software crashes and it affects your employees, that drives a fix harder than a thousand times as many customers with the same problem. From now on, crashes in the Windows products will not affect Google employees. And they will care less, even if most of their customers are using Windows. Don’t believe me? I thought you might not.

Just look at Apple.

iTunes is an application beholden to millions – including millions who use a PC – and yet almost everyone I’ve met who has run it on both Windows and OS X has told me that the Windows version is garbage in comparison. I know from years of experience that QuickTime is an utter nightmare on Windows, frequently breaking or delivering dire performance. The simple fact is that Apple never see those problems because, of course, no-one at Apple uses Windows internally. So, no-one at Apple cares to do anything about it.

Apple does of course have a vested interest in iTunes and QuickTime running better on OS X, but I honestly don’t beleive that iTunes is deliberately unstable and cack just to drive people to buy a Mac. It’s simply because their Windows programmers suck due to complete inexperience with the platform, and the same thing is going to happen at Google.

In the long run, it may not matter. If the entirety of Google’s product line-up completes its buzzword-filled move to the “The Cloud”, then hopefully it won’t matter that Google coders can’t produce quality code on Windows. But in the meantime, get ready for Chrome, Google Earth, Google Desktop, Sketchup, and Picasa to start sucking big time. The developers aren’t using Windows any more, and their bosses want every application in the browser.

Why should they care if your Windows program crashes?

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About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

10 responses to “Say goodbye to Google products working properly on Windows”

  1. brian says :

    surely they would keep a windows test lab considering the amount of software products they support – as an end user im not bothered by them moving away from windows internally

    • AngryTechnician says :

      You’d think Apple would do the same. They probably do. Yet their Windows products are still inferior.

      • jeff says :

        That’s assuming that Apple and Google have the same thought process. Apple is primarily a hardware company. iTunes, for instance, works perfectly on OS X and is a buggy turd on Windows, but many Windows users have iPhones and iPods. When they complain about their problems with iTunes on Facebook, Mac users will always tell them how perfectly it works on a Mac. I watched as several of my friends were convinced to purchase Macs just for an improved iTunes experience. Of course they’re blaming Windows when the problem is really intentional inferior programming on Apple’s part. But the non-tech user won’t pick up on that.

        Google, on the other hand, is an advertising company. They want everyone, no matter what platform they use, to associate Google with quality. Quality searches, quality browsers, tv interfaces, phones, desktop managers.

        What is being moved away from Windows at Google is not test stations. As someone who works in a lab at a very large tech company, I can assure you that everyone who actually works on Google’s Windows software will continue to do things the way they always have. At my work station I have two Linux boxes and one windows box. The windows box is used only for communication and record keeping. All my real work is Linux based. They could take that Windows box away and give me another Linux box or a Mac and my work would not change a bit. That is essentially the change that is being made. Google sales people can use Macs and it won’t effect the functionality of Google software. Most Google developers code on Goobuntu anyway.

        • AngryTechnician says :

          You make some very good points here, particularly about Google’s motives in advertising, and it’s true that hardware (Mac, iPod, and iPhone) is the lion’s share of Apple’s revenue stream. You’re probably right that many (or most) of Google’s developers don’t use Windows as their primary OS, so perhaps there won’t be too much of a difference now all but the test machines are gone. I still worry though.

  2. Dan says :

    I think you’re being a bit hasty there, me old china.

    All they’re doing is making the working environment more secure and more pleasurable to use. It’s foolish to think that they’ve forgotten that the majority of their users run windows. Not only will they continue to test on Windows, it will remain the highest priority for a good few years to come.

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Honestly, I hope I’m wrong. However, what I’m talking about here is known in software development as ‘dogfooding‘, and has been talked about in the industry for years as a way of improving quality.

      There are certainly ways of doing without it, and the process itself is not without its flaws, but it is one effective way of helping ensure the products you are putting out aren’t flawed. I think Google’s product quality will go down without it. Whether that proves to be true, and by how much, remains to be seen.

  3. Tom says :

    I heard they were running XP with IE6 and gave the responsibility of updates et all to the employees themselves, no wonder they thought it was so insecure IF this is true…

    • AngryTechnician says :

      That would explain it, but it’s hard to imagine anyone smart enough to work at Google making such an idiotic decision.

      • Steven says :

        Believe it or not our managed service IT provider here in Northern Ireland still insists on us using Internet Explorer 6 despite it’s well documented security holes. Apparently IE7 will be released very soon for us to install after many years of testing!

  4. Mark Scholes says :

    Looking at their recent lack of software updates, and plugin versions of google earth, and everything they do being web based, I suspect the only windows google software in the future will be chrome anyway.

    Also apple don’t write windows apps, they wrote a port of whatever UI system they use, which is another reason it sucks. It’s like running gtk or QT apps on windows

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