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Tuesday, 10 June 2014 17:51

Woolworths smashes Windows and switches to Chrome OS Featured


Retail giant Woolworths has announced a massive IT transformation program, confirming it will phase out its huge collection of Microsoft Windows desktops in favour of 8000 Google Chrome OS machines.

The move, believed to be the biggest deployment of Chrome OS devices in the world, means Woolworths will undertake a huge process of replacing Microsoft's desktop, email, and office applications with equivalents from rival Google. 

The company is expected to reveal more details in coming weeks but a spokesperson confirmed the upcoming change to iTWire, describing the rollout as a key plank as part of a bigger program.

"The transition to Google Apps and Chrome is only part of our transformation program of work for the Woolworths Group," a Woolworths spokesperson told iTWire.

"Overall the program will replace a legacy Microsoft Email platform with Google mail, introduce richer collaboration features using the broader Google Apps suite, and replace a legacy Windows XP desktop with a far superior web based desktop delivery method using Citrix.

"This will provide our users with greater options in device choices including “Bring Your own Device” and Chromebooks.

"We expect Chrome devices to make up around 85% of our business devices once we have finished our transformation."

Woolworth's move to 'go Google' is one of a growing number of similar stories, and Google says over 5 million businesses have made the switch including Kogan, AAPT, Dick Smith, Flight Centre and more.

"Embracing a Chrome device strategy in an enterprise setting has been made possible with recent advances in Citrix with its web-based delivery technology, enabling Woolworths to make the transition from legacy thick client application access to cloud like browser based delivery," the Woolworths spokesperson said.

"Overall the combination of Google Apps, Citrix and Chrome devices delivers on the Woolworths technology strategy providing our staff with the right tools, available on the right device accessible from the right location.

"Far from being a technology program, we believe the capabilities of a Cloud-based solution will provide us with a cultural change. Our focus is on providing the tools for our team members to become more engaged with greater flexibility and productivity in the workplace, not to mention increased opportunities to collaborate and connect with team members around the world. Google, Citrix and Chrome together meet these aims, as well as simplifying our support and administrative processes, whilst simultaneously reducing our IT infrastructure costs.

As reported in various publications today Gartner analysts Isabelle Durand and Bruno Lakehal said the Chromebook segment was the fastest-growing part of the mobile PC market last year, mainly in North America and in some emerging and mature Asia-Pacific countries such as Malaysia and Australia.

Chrome OS still remains a relatively lightweight player in the business sphere compared to Windows and to a degree Mac, but it's arguably hard to beat for cost effectiveness, and provides seamless integration with Google's popular Google Apps platform.

The move is a big dent for Microsoft, which has been pushing to migrate Australian businesses to its cloud-based Office 365 platform in the midst of strong competition from Google.

iTWire's David Williams took a look at Chrome OS for business earlier in the year, declaring "ultimately, the Chromebook is an interesting device and perhaps not one yet suited for major corporate deployment unless it so happens your enterprise uses Google accounts and only needs web-based or RDP or SSH access to remote systems.

"For casual users a simple, fast, lean, web-based device makes a lot of sense. For developers or sysadmins it can also be a versatile tool, particularly with developer mode enabled."


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