Chinese OS developer launches ecosystem alliance to break up Microsoft monopoly

By GT staff reporters Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/23 21:48:36

Move meant to break Microsoft monopoly amid US-driven decoupling


Participants in the Uniontech UOS ecosystem conference in Beijing get hands-on experience of the homegrown operating system on Wednesday. Photo: Li Qiaoyi/GT

Uniontech, the developer of Linux-based Unity Operating System (UOS), on Wednesday launched an ecosystem alliance revolving around the major domestic operating system that's envisioned to become the Chinese equivalent of Microsoft Windows, in a high-profile move to defuse woes over a US-initiated decoupling.

 "Over the past year, we've built a team of 2,000 people, released six versions of UOS, accumulated over 1 million open source community users ... with an ecosystem taking shape that consists of thousands of technology, commercial and strategic partners," Wang Jiping, chairman of Uniontech, said at an event in Beijing where the alliance was announced in an attempt to break up Microsoft's operating system (OS) monopoly.

The alliance's initial membership covers 30 companies including Alibaba Cloud and homegrown chipmaker Loongson Technology.

Uniontech was created in November 2019 as a result of Shenzhen-listed software engineering services provider ArcherMind Technology integrating its Wuhan-based subsidiary with indigenous OS developer Deepin Technology.

The one-year-old UOS, based on Linux distribution Deepin, has quickly become a major in-house OS as the nation strives for breakthroughs in key technologies to wean itself off dependence on foreign suppliers.

The OS developer eyes an extension of its clout in the domestic PC market for Party and government organs and industry institutions - totaling about 100 million users - into the mass PC market of 300 million individual users.

At Wednesday's event, Uniontech announced A-round financing of 1.1 billion yuan ($168.25 million), led by Beijing E-Town International Investment & Development Co. The upstart OS developer has plans for an IPO in the next few years. 

The China-made OS aims to break up Microsoft's monopoly in the domestic market before taking on Microsoft globally, said Wang, also chairman of ArcherMind Technology.

Windows accounted for 85.2 percent of China's market for desktop OS in November, while Apple's OS X took up 5.39 percent, according to Statcounter data. Linux held 0.87 percent. That means the domestic market is even more concentrated than the global market.

Windows held 73.21 percent of the desktop OS market worldwide in November, followed by OS X with 16.54 percent and Linux with 1.8 percent.

A US-advocated crackdown that has added a rising number of Chinese businesses to its Entity List of export controls underlines the importance of pushing for indigenous innovation, analysts said.

The just-concluded Central Economic Work Conference that set the tone for the economy over the next year called for stronger efforts to build independent and controllable supply chains. Making breakthroughs to address a raft of stranglehold issues is on next year's agenda. 

After a few years of efforts, Chinese proprietary chipsets, OS and the nation's own information system have been put into place, easing concerns over being cut off from supplies, Wang told the Global Times in an interview. 

Market dominance slowed the pace of progress as Microsoft's OS delivered little apparent innovation over the past five years, he said, adding that Uniontech could outsmart Microsoft one day.

In the third quarter, Uniontech raked in 106 million yuan in operating revenues, up 176.15 percent from the first half, according to its listed shareholder ArcherMind Technology's quarterly financial disclosure. 

Before the years when Microsoft became the dominant force in OS, no one held a monopolistic position in the market; Apple succeeded in elbowing its way into the OS market with creative products that have attracted enough users and gained wide support among application developers, Liu Wenhuan, general manager of Uniontech, told the Global Times on Wednesday, speaking of the significance of timing for remaking a rather consolidated desktop OS market. 

With a huge user base, the country is embracing the opportunity for an OS reshuffle, Liu said, adding that the nation's information industry chains that comprise domestic chipmakers, software developers and device manufacturers make the case for a shift toward domestic OS.

Stating that Uniontech's UOS is free of malicious software, viruses and Trojan houses, Liu, also founder of Deepin, revealed that the China-made OS has partially out-innovated Windows 7, notably in security mechanisms and an app store, and it is expected to surpass Windows 7 and Windows 8 in two to three years.

Newspaper headline: Uniontech starts ecosystem alliance


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