No More Windows 8 For The Chinese Government

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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Chinese authorities ban Windows 8 in government offices, to avoid the ‘end of support’ dilemma they are facing with Windows XP

China has banned installation of Windows 8 on any new government computers, citing security concerns and lack of official support for older versions of the OS.

At the moment, the majority of government computers in China run Windows XP, an operating system no longer supported by Microsoft. However, a number of domestic companies have previously promised to provide support past the April deadline.

“The Chinese government obviously cannot ignore the risks of running OS without guaranteed technical support. It has moved to avoid the awkwardness of being confronted with a similar situation again in future if it continues to purchase computers with foreign OS,” reports the state-owned Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, Windows 8 recently had its very first major update, with the release of version 8.1.

Looking to Linux

According to Xinhua, the Central Government Procurement Centre has issued an advisory in which it said that all desktops, laptops and tablets bought by the government organisations can run any operating system as long as it’s not Windows 8.

XP-RIP-185x222This could do serious damage to Microsoft – Associated Press reports that the state is the largest buyer of computer software in China.

The total market share of Windows XP in the country stands at around 70 percent – and experts have long warned about the dangers of running an OS that doesn’t receive regular security updates. It seems that the Chinese government has decided to use this opportunity to find alternative solutions, rather than authorise the expensive upgrade process.

The episode resulted in renewed calls for an operating system made domestically, like Ubuntu Kylin, StartOS or the recently released China OS, all based on the Linux kernel. Even more Linux-based projects are in development, but so far, the open source alternatives have found little success in China. Red Flag Software, once the second largest Linux distributor in the world, closed its Beijing headquarters in February following allegations of mismanagement and corruption.

Meanwhile, the UK government has negotiated a £5.5 million extended support contract with Microsoft, which means it can enjoy regular updates for another year, while it is migrating an estimated 200,000 machines to a more recent OS.

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