‘Altostrat’ – Google’s fictitious company

Microsoft is well known for their long list of fictional companies – the name of which crop up often in the documentation for their software. However they aren’t the only company to do so – Google has a fake company of their own – ‘Altostrat’.

WHOIS for AltoStrat.com domain via DomainTools

The altostrat.com domain itself was created in November 2007.

A quick Google Search brings up this intranet page for ‘Project Eggplant‘ at Altostrat.

'Project Eggplant' homepage - a Google Sites example site

It also brings up the homepage of ‘Altostrat Pediatrics‘.

Homepage for 'Altostrat Pediatrics' - another Google Sites example site

The Altostrat name makes an appearance in this Google tutorial on ‘Configure Google Apps for Calendar Interop‘.

'Altostrat' mentioned in a Google tutorial on Google Apps

And this tutorial on ‘Publish a private Chrome app‘.

'Altostrat' mentioned in a Google tutorial for building Chrome apps

So where did the name come from?

Getting to the bottom of the mystery

When I filter the Google search results to exclude pages before February 2008, the number of ‘Altostrat’ mentions falls off a cliff.

'Altostrat' is Google Search results page

Why is that date significant? Turns out Google launched their new ‘Google Sites’ product on February 28, 2008.

Google launched Google Sites, basically a relaunch of Jotspot but with many more features. In short, this new software allows teams to share much like you could with Microsoft’s SharePoint.

According to TechCrunch, it took 16 months to relaunch Jotspot as Google Sites, so the registration of the domain in November 2007 fits with the same development timelines.

So my final explanation – Altostrat was an internal name used by the Google Sites team during the redevelopment of their product, and has been reused by others at Google in the years that have followed.

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