China bans Windows 8 from government PCs with twisted logic, and embraces Linux

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Microsoft may have been granted permission to launch its Xbox One console in China in September, but a decision by the Chinese government could impact severely on sales of Windows 8. China's official state news agency, Xinhua reports that the latest version of Microsoft's operating system will be banned from governmental computers, although there are to be no restrictions placed on home computers. The reason for the ban on Windows 8? Well it's not quite clear, but it's put down to something to do with energy-saving -- although this seems unlikely.

The website of China's Central Government Procurement Center posted an 'Important Notice' entitled, catchily, "Agreement to supply information about the class of energy-saving products complement the mandatory tender notice". A list of criteria then follows including, at number 5 "all computer products are not allowed to install Windows 8 operating system". This is slightly at odds with the news agency's suggestion -- the official news agency, remember -- that Windows 8 is being banned from new government PCs in "a move to ensure computer security after the shutdown of Windows XP".

The agency goes on to point out that Windows XP currently enjoys a 70 percent market share in China. Just last month, support for the now-decrepit operating system came to an end, and Xinhua goes on to say that the Windows 8 ban is "a move to ensure computer security after the shutdown of Windows XP". So far we have two explanations for the ban. Any more to add to the pot, anyone? In fact the news agency has another one for you to mull over. One of the side-effects of the end of support for Windows XP was "arousing [sic] safety concerns and appeals for domestically designed OS".

The story continues: "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". This makes it sound rather more like a matter of mistrusting foreign software than safety or energy-saving concerns. Xinhua then reveals what is perhaps the real reason for banning Windows 8 -- the government wants to build its own Linux-based operating system: "China will focus on the development of its own OS based on Linux".

Energy-saving? Security? Paranoia? Promoting home-grown coding talent? Laying the groundwork for a wider rollout of a government-built OS? You decide.

Image Credit: Hung Chung Chih / Shutterstock

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