The Chinese government has banned Windows 8 from a sizeable chunk of public-sector PCs – capping off a long-running dispute with Microsoft over the company's decision to cut support for XP.
The ban was announced by the government's IT procurement agency in a notice posted online on Friday. It was addressed to vendors bidding on a contract to supply the Chinese state with new energy-saving PCs, laptops, tablets and other gear.
"All computer products are not allowed to install Windows 8 operating system," the (Google translated) note states.
The agency behind this decision – The Procurement Center of the Central Government Institution of the People's Republic of China – wields enormous power within the nation as it leads procurement for the Chinese public sector.
This ban follows a set of Chinese web giants teaming up in February to offer support for Windows XP for the next two years following Microsoft halting updates for the legacy OS. As of the end of 2013, Windows XP had a marketshare of about 50 percent in China. In December, Chinese officials were reported to be concerned about the potential security impact of Microsoft cutting support.
China was also reported to have told Microsoft that halting the sale of Windows 7 and switching over to the higher-priced Windows 8 would lead to software piracy.
"This morning, the China Central Government Procurement Center posted a notification titled 'Bidding Process for Government Purchasing Energy-efficient IT Products.' The notification indicates that the Windows 8 operating system is excluded in the bidding," a Microsoft spokesperson told The Register in the past few minutes.
"We were surprised to learn about the reference to Windows 8 in this notice. Microsoft has been working proactively with the Central Government Procurement Center and other government agencies through the evaluation process to ensure that our products and services meet all government procurement requirements.
"We have been and will continue to provide Windows 7 to government customers. At the same time, we are working on the Window 8 evaluation with relevant government agencies."
China may not have many alternatives to Microsoft, though, given that the country's homegrown OS "Red Flag Linux" apparently shut its doors and fired all staff in February. ®