Microsoft ‘surprised’ at move to change systems

By Zhang Ye Source:Global Times Published: 2014-5-21 1:28:01

China has announced that it will forbid the use of the Windows 8 operating system (OS) in new government computers, a move to ensure computer security after the shutdown of Windows XP.

All desktops, laptops and tablet PCs to be purchased by central State organs must be installed with an OS other than Windows 8, according to an online statement by the Central Government Procurement Center.

The measure only targets computers used by government offices, while the personal computer market is expected to stay unaffected.

In an e-mail to the Global Times, Microsoft said they are surprised by the news.

"Microsoft has been working proactively with the Central Government Procurement Center and other government agencies through the evaluation process to ensure that our products and services meet all government procurement requirements. We have been and will continue to provide Windows 7 to government customers. At the same time we are working on the Window 8 evaluation with relevant government agencies," said the statement.

"Windows 8 has some unique back doors reserved by developers for later system upgrade and daily maintenance. The downside of the back doors is the potential risk of leaking sensitive personal information to developers or Internet hackers," Zhang Yi, CEO of Shenzhen-based iiMedia Research, told the Global Times.

Zhang's opinion was echoed by Ni Guangnan, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who reportedly appealed that the government should not purchase Windows 8 devices.

Ni was quoted by China Electronics News as saying the new generation of Windows system would leave information vulnerable to monitoring from the US government, as shown in the scandal of PRISM.

Xiang Ligang, CEO of telecom information portal, told the Global Times that operating systems created by domestic companies such as Neokylin Linux Secure OS would also be an option, despite the fact that domestically developed ones still need to improve user experience.

Neokylin is an operating system jointly developed by China Standard Software and the National University of Defense Technology. The Neokylin series is used in areas such as taxation, public security and auditing, according to the company's website.

However, the Linux-based OS developed by Chinese companies, including Neokylin, remains unpopular among civilian users.

Currently, most government computers run Windows XP, which has a 70-percent market share in China. But Microsoft ended support for this 13-year-old system on April 8, arousing safety concerns and appeals for domestically designed OS.

The government ban on Windows 8 is interpreted by some analysts as a move to avoid being confronted with a similar situation again in future if it continues to purchase computers with a foreign OS.

The move will likely be followed by some other countries, which may harm Microsoft's sales and brand recognition in the long run, Zhang said.

Xinhua contributed to this story

Newspaper headline: Windows 8 ban to aid security

Posted in: Society

blog comments powered by Disqus