China's government will not allow the use of Microsoft's Windows 8 on any of its computers.
In a statement related to the use of energy-saving computer hardware released last week, China's Central Government Procurement Center announced that government computers will not be allowed to run Windows 8. The ban comes not because Windows 8 systems are less energy efficient than previous versions of Microsoft's operating system, but because of long-term concerns about security.
The official Xinhua news agency said the government imposed the ban "to avoid the awkwardness of being confronted with a similar situation again in future if it continues to purchase computers with (a) foreign OS." That "situation" would be the recent end of support for Windows XP, which is a much bigger deal in China than in most other parts of the world: Network World said last August that nearly three-quarters of the PCs in the country were still running under XP and predicted that figure would still stand at more than 65 percent as of April 2014.
Net Market Share pegs the rate at a more moderate but still significant 37 percent, while Canalys puts its market share at 50 percent; whatever the actual number, the ban on Windows 8 is a blow to Microsoft's efforts to promote it over its predecessors. China is the largest market for personal computers in the world, surpassing the U.S. for the top spot in 2012, and the government alone spent nearly $160 million that year just to replace pirated software on official computers, an effort that included the purchase of more than 158,000 operating system licenses.
Making Microsoft's position in the Middle Kingdom even more difficult is the Chinese government's effort to develop its own Linux-based operating system. Qi Xiangdong, president of Chinese antivirus company Qihoo 360, told Xinhua the first step toward creating a viable homegrown OS is to mandate its use on official computers, although consumers will be left to opt for whatever system they prefer.