Microsoft (MS) has completed its government approved, specially adapted version of Windows 10 for the Chinese market.
Windows 10 is already widely available for domestic use in China. But crucially for Microsoft, it is banned for use on government systems. Given the way that China operates as a country, this means that Windows has been largely excluded from the enterprise market in China.
Big news for Microsoft?
Yes, very much so.
The Chinese government had previously banned Windows 8 for government use citing security concerns following the leak by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden of information on National Security Agency spying, launching an anti-monopoly probe against Microsoft whose sole purpose seemed to be to derail Microsoft’s expansion into the world’s most populous country.
That all seems like water under the bridge now for Microsoft and the communist government. Working in partnership with the state-owned China Electronics Technology Group, MS is set to release a Chinese government approved version of Windows 10 specifically for China.
So, what has MS changed about Windows 10 for China?
Nobody knows; yet; and that’s a true story.
That said, it’s widely rumoured that not only has Microsoft had to hand over the source code to Chinese government tech experts to satisfy them that US authorities can’t use the Chinese Windows 10 to spy on them.
A win for privacy, then?
No. It’s a pretty safe bet that Microsoft will have been ‘forced’ to add software surveillance code that allows the Chinese government to spy on its users instead.
Well that sucks, for the Chinese
Another true story.
However, in China, and probably other jurisdictions as well, this is not an unheard-of practice. There have been wide ranging reports of smartwatches and other electronics designed and manufactured in China that have built in back doors that link back to China based servers.
As part of Microsoft’s long term strategy in China, it has made deals with Chinese firms to improve its favourability rating. These include partnerships with Lenovo, Xiaomi, and TenCent.
Alain Crozier, CEO of Microsoft Greater China told China Daily: “We have already developed the first version of the Windows 10 government secure system. It has been tested by three large enterprise customers… (see above) …We have worked extensively to make it secure and controllable. We are now ready to serve the market.”
Time will tell.