China looks to Linux as Windows alternative

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China looks to Linux as Windows alternative

Linux developers push for official support.

China may look at the open source Linux as a replacement for Windows, following an official ban on Microsoft's Windows 8 for government procured computers.

Chinese Government news agency Xinhua published an article claiming Chinese vendors are using a ban on Windows 8 to push Linux-based OS variants.

According the the reports, Chinese developers may receive "preferential policy" treatment and official support for developing Linux-based operating systems.

The Linux distributions and other locally developed programs are often "are created in accordance with Chinese people's habits" and as such "beat foreign rivals", the official news agency recorded.

A search on DistroWatch revealed three Chinese Linux distributions, Ubuntu Kylin, Deepin and  StartOS are currently available.

StartOS - with its GNOME desktop environment tweaked to look like Windows XP - may be a contender for older systems, thanks to low hardware requirements.

StartOS XP-like desktop

Google's Android, which is based on Linux, also gets a mention as an alternative to Windows.

An earlier effort by Chinese developers to create a Linux-based operating system floundered. The Red Flag distribution closed down this year after the Chinese Academy of Sciences withdrew funding for the project, citing general mismanagement and an inability to complete specific projects.

China's software industry counts several successes however, including Tencent's popular messaging program QQ and the Baidu search engine, both used by millions of people.

Ironically enough, Microsoft's heightened security stance may be one reason the Chinese government slammed the door shut on Windows 8. 

Ni Guangnan, an academic with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was quoted in the Chinese news reports criticising the built-in malware and security defences in Windows 8. Windows Defender and SmartScreen for Internet Explorer put users at risk of being monitored and endangering national security, he claimed, especially if run on government computers.

Contacted by iTnews, a Microsoft spokesperson downplayed the government ban on Windows 8, saying the operating system meets all Chinese government procurement requirements.

“Microsoft has been working proactively with the Chinese Central Government Procurement Centre and other government agencies to ensure that our products and services meet all government procurement requirements, and we’ll continue to do so," the spokesperson said.

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