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20051008

Google and the iGhetto

Slightly altered
I read up on Google's latest mind-boggling project, Google Secure Access, a free, secure wireless initiative, and prepared to get geekily excited about it until I found the increasingly common "(Windows XP and Windows 2000 only)" disclaimer. I thought back to the recent offerings from everyone's favorite Mountainview mothership, and couldn’t help but think, “Why does Google hate me?” As a home Linux and Mac OS X user, I have gotten by pretty well lately, playing some cutting-edge games (ok, game), finding most new hardware to be OSX/Linux compatible, and using the commodity standard Microsoft Office platform; things were looking pretty good for a lowly Linux/BSD/OSX user such as myself. The systems were finally making inroads to the non-tech crowds, too: my technophobic brother was asking me serious questions about the Mac mini, and I hear you can get a free Linux box with the purchase of a qualifying rifle at Wal-Mart[1]. Just as it looked as if the Redmond beast might have to deal with some serious competition, opposition came from the unlikeliest of places: the company that Microsoft identifies as its biggest threat.

Though the first line on Google's company overview page smugly declares that the company’s mission is to make information "universally accessible and useful", a glance at Google Labs is enough to turn a *nix user green with compatibility envy. Google Desktop, Google Deskbar, Google Web Accelerator, Google Video Viewer, Google Talk, and now Google Secure Access are six projects recently released into beta or production through their lab, and all are currently only compatible with Windows systems. Though Google Talk uses open standards for the bland text chatting protocol, the real meat of the service is its VoIP client, which currently only lets you talk to other boring Windows users. Even Gmail, the nothing-short-of-revolutionary webmail client, went into public beta without Safari compatibility (though they are now Safari compatible, advanced features such as Rich Text formatting still only work in IE and firefox).

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