China is reportedly working on a homegrown operating system supported by the local government as a strategy to replace OSs from Google Inc (NASDAQ GOOG) and Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ MSFT) that are widely used across the country. Chinese news agency Xinhua reported of a possible introduction of an operating system backed by the local government to push out popular foreign operating systems.
Ni Guangnan,a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, informed Xinhua about plans to introduce a local OS for desktops to counter security concerns. The OS is compatible with app stores and will also be launched for smartphones in the future. These plans by the Chinese government reflect a strategic move to protect confidential information that can potentially compromise national security by replacing foreign operating systems from Chinese soil, especially those based in the US.
The move follows Edward Snowden’s leak in June 2013 regarding the US installation of surveillance tools in locally-produced hardware, after which China has shown more intolerance toward tech products made in the US. The Chinese national security is also facing more cyber-attacks.
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Microsoft has come under the radar of the Chinese government multiple times after Snowden’s revelations. Microsoft offices in China were raided for anti-monopoly charges, even though Android OS is the most popular operating system with a Chinese market share of 82%.
In May 2014, Windows 8 was banned due to security suspicions in all government offices in China. According to Guangnan, this ban came after the realization that local operating systems can be protected, and eventually replace other operating systems.
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Rumors suggest that the government-backed Chinese operating system will be based on the open-source Linux, which is also used in US government offices including the White House, the Department of Defense, and the US Navy. China wants to create a local Linux system because it is more secure, even though it does have the drawback of a more complicated user interface.
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