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Microblog post contradicts claims by China's state-run media

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and China have long had a rocky relationship over accusations of piracy.  With U.S. and Chinese relations deterioriating in the wake of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal and the Obama administration's decision last month to throw fuel on the fire by charging Chinese military officers in China with cyberspying, Microsoft is among the companies accused by Chinese officials as conspiring with U.S. spying.  China has banned Windows 8 from government computers and advised Chinese citizens and businesses to drop Microsoft's latest operating system.

The spat between Microsoft and China is also fueled in part by the testy debate over Windows XP.  In April, Microsoft ended support for most SKUs of the 13-year-old operating system, much to the chagrin of the Chinese government.  Currently, roughly 50 percent of Chinese computers run Windows XP, well above the global consumer average of about 25 percent.  

Windows 8 in China
Former Microsoft Windows President Steven Sinofsky announces Windows 8 at an Oct. 2012 launch event in China. [Image Source: EPA]

China wanted Microsoft to offer Chinese customers free ongoing support for Windows XP.  Microsoft refused, saying that roughly 9 in 10 Windows XP users (indicating a whopping 45 percent of total Chinese users) are running pirated copies of the operating system.

Microsoft this week took to social media to try to appeal to the Chinese people and reassure them that it was fighting attempts to spy on them.  The company wrote on its Chinese account on local Chinese-language microblogging service Weibo [translated via Neowin]:
  1. Microsoft has never assisted any government in an attack of another government or clients.
  2. Microsoft has never provided any government the authority to directly visit our products or services.
  3. Microsoft has never provided any so-called "Backdoor" into its products or services.
  4. Microsoft has never provided the data or info of our clients to the U.S. Govt. or National Security Agency.
  5. Microsoft has never concealed any requests from any government for information about its client
Only roughly 5 percent of Microsoft's revenue comes from China according to a 2011 statement by then CEO Steve Ballmer -- a shockingly low number for the world's largest electronics marketplace.  China's $9B USD market in pirated software, though, make dealing with that massive market a headache, even before you toss in spying concerns.

Sources: Microsoft [Weibo], Neowin

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Alternatives and Updates.
By drycrust3 on 6/8/2014 4:12:07 PM , Rating: 2
China has banned Windows 8 from government computers and advised Chinese citizens and businesses to drop Microsoft's latest operating system.

So the question becomes what are the alternatives?
One option is to just continue using Windows XP. Strange as it sounds, this is probably an option that needs to be considered. End of life support by Microsoft has little meaning to the average pirated XP user because they weren't getting any support anyway, so I am guessing this is the option the Chinese government is hoping people will opt for.
Another option is a Linux Distribution. I did use Linux Deepin for a number of years, which is a Chinese OS based on Ubuntu, and it worked reasonably well.
Just as the arguments about which smartphone to use often comes down to which apps you need to use on your smartphone, so the arguments about which OS to run come down to what programs you want to run on you PC, and that is where the problem lies. One example is there isn't any Microsoft Word version for Ubuntu, so consequently there isn't one for Linux Deepin either. Yes, there are Linux alternatives to Microsoft Word, such as LibreOffice Writer and AbiWord, and probably various cloud writers as well, but just as translation between English and Chinese isn't always accurate, so translation between Word and the alternatives isn't always accurate either.
I think one point that might be behind the Chinese government decision is when do the patents on Microsoft XP and Microsoft Office expire? It could well be in the foreseeable future, e.g. next year, in which case there will be a whole lot of updates to Linux and Cloud based writers to include the expired patented features of Microsoft Word.
By avoiding Windows 8 one also avoids being trapped with the updated versions of Microsoft Word as well.

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