In its most insane attack yet against Microsoft, Google this week claimed that using Microsoft technologies made governments less secure. But it has no data to back up that claim at all.
Google senior director Jeanette Manfra cites—actually, mischaracterizes—a survey from the Public Opinion Strategies that was commissioned by Google as evidence of this claim. But there’s no real evidence: this survey relies on the opinions of a small selection of U.S. workers, only a tiny percentage of which are even government employees.
“The Public Opinion Strategies survey found that more than half of all respondents said that the government’s reliance on these Microsoft products actually made the federal government more vulnerable to hacking or cyberattacks,” Manfra writes. But she then provides a slide detailing the survey results, that makes a very different point, which is that “workers [but not specifically government workers] are pretty divided on whether the federal government’s reliance on Microsoft makes it more or less vulnerable.”
She then goes on to say, “given these vulnerabilities, why does government IT continue to rely on the same set of productivity tools in the workplace?” Woah, woah. What vulnerabilities? The survey doesn’t provide evidence of actual vulnerabilities let alone successful attacks. It cites the opinions of “workers” about whether they believe their governmental agencies’ reliance on a single software vendor—Microsoft—could lead to more vulnerabilities.
Really, what this survey is about is whether having a single software supplier could make the government more or less vulnerable to security vulnerabilities. It’s only about Microsoft in the sense that the survey shows that 85 percent of government employees overall use Microsoft productivity software, while 84 percent of D.C. metro government employees primarily use Microsoft products at work. In other words, what Google is really worried about is getting a seat at the table.
And Manfra admits that.
“At Google Cloud, we believe it’s time for more diversity and choice in the tools available for our civil servants across the nation, 70 percent of whom use Gmail outside of work, according to our survey,” she concludes. “Government workers have the right to benefit from the same flexible, secure-by-design tools at the office that they use in their personal lives. You can learn more about Google Workspace for Government here.”
In other words, monoculture is fine when Google is in the lead. But monoculture in the government isn’t, because Microsoft is in the lead and because Google was able to pay for a study showing that some employees—mostly not government employees, and certainly not government decision-makers, but “workers”—have some “concerns.”
PS: One final point. I often get weird pushback from some people when I cite AdDuplex numbers for Windows usage share, which are based on monthly surveys of several thousand PCs. For example, the most recent report is based on a survey of about 5,000 Windows Store apps. This Google report is based on a survey of “2,600 working Americans,” but only 338 of them are “workers employed by federal, state, or local governments across the country.” I think we all understand that one can use any statistics to make any point, but this survey isn’t broad enough to make any point, let alone Google’s.
This is insane.