Google wants employees using Macs, not Windows or its own Chromebooks

Mac vs Chromebook

In a presentation at the LISA ’13 conference earlier this month, Google explained that it’s managing a fleet of over 43,000 Macs its employees use, without much help from Apple. Despite developing its own desktop operating system and selling Chrome OS laptops together with various OEMs, Google’s computer system of choice is the OS X-running Mac. In fact, it looks like the company imposes Mac use to all employees even though Google also supports additional operating systems including Windows, Linux and Chrome OS, The Register reports.

“There was a time when Macs were a small part of the Google fleet,” Google system engineer Clay Caviness said, “but as of now if you start at Google and want to use a platform other than Mac you have to make a business case.”

However, Google has some difficulty managing the increasing number of Macs, as it doesn’t find Apple’s existing enterprise tools useful for its needs. According to Caviness, Apple’s success with iPhone and iPad may have something to do with the slower development of Mac enterprise tools. Unwilling to wait for Apple to deploy the enterprise solutions Google asked for, the company developed its own set of programs or used available ones from third parties to configure, manage and monitor its Mac fleet. Google updated its Macs from OS X 10.7 to 10.8 for 99.5% of its fleet in 8 weeks, and plans to do the same for the move to OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Apple’s most recent OS update.

Interestingly, Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt acknowledged the superiority of Apple’s Macs over PCs in a recent thorough guide for moving from iPhone to Android, actually comparing Android devices with Macs. “Like the people who moved from PCs to Macs and never switched back,” Schmidt wrote on Google+, “you will switch from iPhone to Android and never switch back.”

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