Text: | Print|

Homegrown developers look to unseat Microsoft’s dominant OS

2014-10-23 13:21 Global Times Web Editor: Qin Dexing

After tinkering with the term "de-Microsofting," Ni Guangnan decided instead to go with "de-Windowsify." "We call this a de-Windowsifying movement," he said.

Speaking last Saturday at a temporary office in a residential neighborhood in Zhongguancun, Beijing's answer to Silicon Valley, the 75-year-old computer science professor and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering talked about his ambitious project to bring together all of China's homegrown operating system (OS) developers in an alliance to replace Microsoft Windows in one to two years.

Earlier this year, Ni established the China Information Terminal Operating System Alliance, a non-profit umbrella organization for OS and software companies. The alliance's goal is to boost China's Internet security and change a status quo that has seen China reliant on foreign companies for computer operating systems.

A total 15 domestic OS developers have joined the alliance, including Standard Software, headquartered in Shanghai, Beijing's Linx-Tech, Dalian's Wujia Wanjing Information Industry Group, Guangxi's Imind Software and Wuhan's Deepin Technology. "Pretty much all of China's OS developers have joined," Ni said.

Ni said none of these OS developers have the capability to rival Windows alone. This is why an alliance is necessary to pool resources and consolidate research and development capabilities.

  Striking while the iron is hot

"Now is the most vulnerable time for Microsoft in China, and the best time for homegrown software companies to beat it," Ni said.

Microsoft has suffered multiple setbacks in China this year. Pressure on foreign tech companies in China intensified following former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden's revelations of a US global surveillance program and China's tightening of compliance requirements for anti-monopoly laws.

In May, China's government procurement department banned the installation of Windows 8 software on government PCs for security reasons. Two months later, the US company was targeted in an anti-trust probe launched by China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

"When Microsoft Corp's chief executive Satya Nadella visited China in September, no high officials from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology received him," Ni said.

Meanwhile, the central government has expressed its support for homegrown software.

This February, it established a panel overseeing the Internet and information security headed by President Xi Jinping, and with Li Keqiang as its vice director. The move was seen by many as a sign of the central government's intent to tighten its grip on cyber security and strengthen the information sector.

Sources told the Global Times that as early as last December, Xi had signed documents calling for the development of China's own operating system.

"President Xi Jinping's emphasis on cyber security is our main support," Ni said.

Li Zhensheng, director of Standard Software's marketing center, agreed, saying, "We've received an increasing number of inquiries and orders this year following the ban on Windows 8."

China is not the only country that is trying to migrate from Windows to Linux. The government of Munich, Germany, switched to LiMux, a Linux-based operating system in 2005, after Microsoft stopped supporting Windows NT 4, which the government had used previously. "It was from this experience of being totally at the mercy of an external party that we wanted to take the road to more independence," said Florian Schiessl, head of the project, according to a report by European Commission.

Standard Software, jointly owned by the China Electronics Corporation and China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, is widely regarded as China's most successful operating system developer. The company's NeoKylin OS is used in government, national defense, public security, finance, education, taxation, auditing and transportation, Li told the Global Times.

This August, US-based PC manufacturer Dell announced it has signed deals with Standard Software to preinstall NeoKylin in its business computers, including Latitude business notebooks and OptiPlex business desktops, in an effort to "meet the diversified demand of Chinese customers," according to a press release by Dell.

At the time, commentators said one of Dell's goals was to please Chinese authorities. In the most recent revision of China's procurement regulations, bidders who offer laptops preinstalled with Chinese Linux-based operating systems can get two extra points in their bid scores, according to China Government Procurement News.

Comments (0)
Most popular in 24h
  Archived Content
Media partners:

Copyright ©1999-2018 Chinanews.com. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.