The Chinese government has been feeling its oats lately with aggressive moves that thwart the progress of foreign-based tech companies trying to penetrate the lucrative Chinese market.
They have been particularly harsh on Microsoft. What began with an unannounced incursion into Microsoft offices in China, which just smacked of harassment, to the recently announced ban on the use of the Windows 8 operating system on government computers, the increased scrutiny of the Chinese government on foreign tech companies has inhibited business growth.
Prior to the release of Windows 8, approximately 70 percent of Chinese government computers were operating under Windows XP. The government was upset when Microsoft announced that it was ending updates and support for XP. In explaining their decision to ban Windows 8, the government claimed that it feared losing support for the new OS. Which, on the surface, is difficult to understand since Windows 8 is a brand new OS and will be supported for many years to come. The government cited increased costs as one reason for the ban.
"Windows 8 is fairly expensive and will increase government procurement costs," said Yan Xiaohong, National Copyright Administration deputy director.
The ban on Windows 8 affects government computers only -- consumers are still allowed to install it on their desktops and laptops.
With Windows 8 banned, Chinese tech firms are under pressure to provide the support and security upgrades to Windows XP that Microsoft no longer offers. An ongoing attempt to root out pirated software will also be relied on to keep things safe. The head of an official OS development alliance, Ni Guangnan, said, "We hope to launch a Chinese-made desktop operating system by October supporting app stores."
Ni added that Chinese-built software is on track to replace desktop operating systems within one to two years, three to five years for mobile operating systems.
What's really behind the series of roadblocks and checkpoints set up by government agencies against foreign-sourced tech is a combination of paranoia, both justified and drummed-up, national pride and a desire to drive economic growth by encouraging domestic sources for technology while creating jobs to drive that growth.
The move to ban Windows 8 has the government getting behind accelerated attempts to develop a home-grown operating system, engineered by Chinese tech firms.
The new China OS, for lack of a better name, will be based on Linux. This will not be the first time that Chinese firms have attempted to build an OS from Linux. The Linux-based KylinOS and the StartOS, already exist, but they have not caught on.
The new OS, if and when it is deployed, will become standard equipment on government and military computer systems. Consumers will be allowed to use Windows or other operating systems, although it is hoped that the China OS will eventually take precedent over them.