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May 21st, 2014

China Says ‘No’ to Windows 8

Reuters reported yesterday that the Chinese government has banned the use of Windows 8 on Chinese government computers. According to the official Xinhua news agency, the ban is being put in place by the Central Government Procurement Center primarily over security concerns now that Microsoft has ended support for XP, which is thought to be the most widely used operating system within China. This news has led Forbes to speculate that this may prompt Redmond to continue to support the OS within the People’s Republic.

“…we could possibly see Microsoft alter its decision to abandon XP and set up a special team just to provide support in China. Beijing used a similar tactic about a decade ago, when it threatened a similar ban on Windows due to security concerns. As a result, Microsoft made the rare move of revealing its source code to Beijing and the situation was resolved.”

However, this ban may turn out to have little to do with Microsoft’s abandonment of XP and much to do with the company’s cozy relationship with the NSA. Documents released by Edward Snowden have indicated that Microsoft has built secret back doors into Windows to aid the U.S. intelligence community in their efforts to spy on foreign governments. In addition, Snowden documents have revealed that Microsoft kept the security agency informed about unpatched security issues in Windows, allowing the NSA to exploit them to their own ends.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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