Did China ban Windows 8 from government PCs over XP's end of support?

Did China ban Windows 8 from government PCs over XP's end of support?

Summary: China has banned Windows 8 from being installed on new computers. Microsoft tells ZDNet it was surprised by the decision.


In a major blow to Microsoft, China has mysteriously announced it will exclude Windows 8 from newly-procured government computers.

In a brief statement on the Central Government Procurement Centre's website about a particular class of energy-saving products, the agency noted that new government computers are forbidden from having Windows 8 installed.

The motivations for the ban are somewhat mysterious, with no explanation for why Windows 8 has been excluded from public sector machines.

However, China's official news bureau Xinhua claims the move is the Chinese government's response to Microsoft's recent end to support and security updates for Windows XP, which still runs most government computers.

According to Xinhua, the government has "moved to avoid the awkwardness of being confronted with a similar situation again in future if it continues to purchase computers with [a] foreign OS".

While Microsoft has stopped providing updates to the general public for Windows XP, it is offering extended support to enterprise customers, such as the Netherlands government and the UK government, which have signed multi-million dollar contracts with Microsoft to provide support for remaining XP computers.  

As Reuters notes, it's not clear how the ban on Windows 8 is related to the use of energy-savings products.

Xinhua also notes the Chinese government's ambitions to develop and use its own Linux-based OS, similar to its efforts launch a homegrown mobile OS.

China launched the Linux-based China Operating System (COS) for smartphones in January. However, the UI quickly drew comparisons to HTC's Android Sense interface. Other locally made OSes include Ubuntu-based Kylin and StartOS, but Xinhua notes these haven't gained much traction with local buyers yet.

Qi Xiangdong, president of Chinese antivirus and software vendor Qihoo 360, told Xinhua the first step to supporting a homegrown OS is to promote the use of Chinese-designed OS among official users, while civilians would be free to choose their OS.

According to the latest figures from Net Market Share, Windows XP machines account for more than 37 percent of desktops in use in China.

Update at 12:50pm ET: In a statement to ZDNet Microsoft said it was "surprised" by the decision to exclude Windows 8 from bidding but that it would continue to provide Windows 7 to agencies.

"This morning, the China Central Government Procurement Center posted a notification titled 'Bidding Process for Government Purchasing Energy-efficient IT Products.' The notification indicates that the Windows 8 operating system is excluded in the bidding," the company said in a statement.

"We were surprised to learn about the reference to Windows 8 in this notice. 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."

Read more on Windows XP

Topics: Enterprise Software, Government, Microsoft, Operating Systems, China, Windows 8

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • conspiracy theories anyone?

    Can't see a problem here, many large companies are giving Windows 8 a miss, and installing Windows 7. Why should the Chinese government install one of Microsoft's most hated operating systems?
    • What conspiracy theories?

      What conspiracy theories? it's right there in the body of the article published in Xihua, the official news agency of the Chinese Government:

      "And 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."

      The Chinese government wants to eventually migrate its systems to an OS that's developed in house. Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that they're going to pull it off, or even that they're going to actually attempt to put this plan in motion. But suggesting this is some sort of "conspiracy theory" is a pretty remarkable case of putting your head in the sand.

      Of course, you could also argue that the Chinese government is just playing hardball, trying to negotiate a better licensing deal for Windows. But given the general direction that the Chinese government is plotting for the country and its economy, I suspect they really do want to develop and run an in-house Operating System. Really, its' no different from Samsung toying around with Tizen in hopes of one day, perhaps, owning and controlling all aspects of their smartphone empire.
      • China probably never heard of OpenSSL

        Good luck w/ those Linux machines. Better learn how to compile a kernel or read core dumps to fix the problems on your own.
        • LOL

          LOL, I'm pretty sure there are engineers in China that can read a core dump and compile a kernel.
        • Reading What?

          I am sure they have people in China that can develop their own OS with out needing to depend on the U.S. , after all isn't that where a lot of these viruses and hackers are coming from anyways...
        • Compiling a distro

          China has more than enough engineers who can compile the code and make a distro to be installed by the unwashed masses.
        • Have you lost touch with reality?

          If China can put men and women into space (something the US can no longer do...LOL) then I think they can do what you suggest in their sleep.
          You need to catch up on about 50 years of progress...Mr. Beige.
      • In House OS

        It will simply be a hacked version of Windows 8.
        • Not if it's Linux-based!

          Why would China build a "hacked version of Windows 8" when they are already developing a Linux-based OS?
      • Conspiracy Theory

        As Conspiracy Theories go I like this one:

        After the Snowden Fallout, Microsoft refused to give China a full copy of the Windows 8.1 Source (including the crypto parts). They still have the source for the other versions, which is why those are approved.
        So they'll allow Windows 8 on new machines as soon as they get the source from the Russians.
    • No conspiracy theories necessary

      It's all about feng shui.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Kylin

      China is betting on Kylin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kylin_%28operating_system%29
  • Gee, I wonder why they dislike Windows 8. What a shock!

    > The motivations for the ban are somewhat mysterious

    Only "mysterious" to the writers at zdnet. Have you *SEEN* Windows 8? Have you tried
    to get 1400 employees to switch to Windows 8? Do you know why massive numbers of companies will NEVER switch to that big mess called: Windows 8? Anyone that uses Windows 8 for more than 10 minutes knows that it is NOT a Desktop OS. And definitely not a "business" OS.
    • So wrong!!

      I know several large and small business moving to windows 8.1 (not 8). It is starting to see a lot of business traction. Our company moved to Windows 8.1 products by Toshiba and Lenovo. We are loving them. Especially the hybrid products. We have individuals running Windows 7 wanting to be upgraded because Windows 8.1 is much faster.
      • A few companies does not constitute "a lot of business traction"

        While tablets and phones appear to be better suited to the Windows 8.x interface, no serious computing (i.e., number crunching) will ever be performed on those platforms. Other than taking notes, filling in simple forms, or reading/sending short emails, tablets will never be of much business use until voice technology significantly improves. Until then, laptops/desktops will continue to be used for larger-scale content creation and serious number crunching (not counting servers here). MS is moving towards restoring some variation of the traditional desktop interface for such work.
        • You have no idea!!

          I know more than few. I can tell right now it will be a waste talking to you. Most Windows 8.1 go to desktop. How would you know what business do? I know of 4 Engineering Research Centers for computational fluids that use Windows 8.

          This is more of a response to Holder's comment.
        • Well you showed your level of "knowledge" with this statement:

          "..., no serious computing (i.e., number crunching)..."
          That pretty much sums up you have never really used a Windows 8.1 Tablet. But nice try jack-wagon.
        • Regular desktop is still there

          You seem to forget that along with a redesigned Start Menu (now Start Screen) the desktop and regular desktop applications are still there in Windows 8.x. All that changed is the capacity to run Modern App and the Start Screen instead of a Start Menu. The rest is still there and even faster than before, and with Windows 8.1 Update 1 the Modern App side is starting to intergrate with the desktop (they can be pinned to taskbar and opened Modern App now shows in taskbar).

          Anything Windows 7 can do can be done in Windows 8.x (and even more).
      • MicroTroll

        Hope you can keep that editorial job at Microsoft.

        Yes, some companies are moving to 8/8.1
        Does that make me, or millions of other people hate it any less?

        • Yeah but...

          Would anything? Some people just hate Microsoft and there's no amount of reason and logic that can make them come to their senses. Same thing with people who hate Apple or Samsung or Google.