Google staff hiding secret OS?


Rumours that Google is working on its own operating system have been given fresh momentum after it was revealed that a large number of the company's staff are "hiding" which operating system they use.

Websites routinely collect data on their visitors' PCs, including which operating system and browser they are using.

However, US internet metrics firm Net Applications claims that a third of Google's staff are masking the operating system being used on their computers, sparking speculation that they are using a new Google OS.

Net Applications' systems can detect most major operating systems, including many Unix and Linux variants, and even the recently released pre-beta of Windows 7. However, thousands of the visitors from are failing to disclose their OS. Two-thirds of Google staff are revealing their OS, however, ruling out the possibility of a company-wide ban.

"We have never seen an OS stripped off the user agent string before," Vince Vizzaccaro, executive vice president of marketing and strategic alliances for Net Applications told

"I believe you have to arrange to have that happen, it's not something we've seen before with a proxy server. All I can tell you is there's a good percentage of the people at Google showing up [at web pages] with their OS hidden."

Google has long been rumoured to be developing its own operating system. Those rumours were given an extra shot in the arm with the release of the Chrome browser earlier this year, which contained many operating-system like features, including a Task Manager and an option to run web apps as if they were normal desktop programs.

Barry Collins

Barry Collins is an experienced IT journalist who specialises in Windows, Mac, broadband and more. He's a former editor of PC Pro magazine, and has contributed to many national newspapers, magazines and websites in a career that has spanned over 20 years. You may have seen Barry as a tech pundit on television and radio, including BBC Newsnight, the Chris Evans Show and ITN News at Ten.