China has stepped up its war on Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system with a report in state-backed media that questions the security of the software.
In a one and a half minute segment aired on China's CCTV television channel, journalists reported that the Chinese government is concerned by the security of the Windows 8 software and is increasing efforts to develop its own rival system.
"Microsoft would no longer open its Windows 8 source code to the Chinese government, however the security scheme of the Windows 8 operating system is designed to provide better access for Microsoft to users' database. For China it's a big challenge for our cybersecurity," said Yang Min, a professor at China's Fudan University, through a translator.
"Your identity, account, contact book, phone numbers, all this data can be put together for big data analysis," explains another academic, Ni Guangnam. "The US has a law that requires anyone that has this data to report to the government. The data might be a good way for the US to monitor other countries."
This report follows the Chinese government banning Windows 8 from a chunk of its public sector PCs in late-May.
In March 2013, El Reg reported that Canonical had partnered with various Chinese government agencies to develop and support a Linux distribution named Ubuntu Kylin for the country. Given this television segment, we imagine installations of that OS are about to increase.
"Analysts say the Chinese government's decision, along with the growing demand for information consumption in China, gives local IT companies a great opportunity to obtain funding and develop more appealing IT products," the report's presenter goes on to say.
Just as China is slowly weaning itself off of high-end tech from Western companies in its supercomputers by developing custom interconnects and processors, the country looks set to do the same with software. This is a sensible strategy, given its ever-growing tussle with the US for economic dominance and the recent security revelations by Edward Snowden about how the NSA has capabilities to compromise the tech developed by US firms.
Microsoft had not responded to El Reg's request for information at the time of writing. Although China is a strategically important growth market for many IT vendors, it's not viewed as a particularly lucrative one by software companies due to its eye-wateringly high rates of piracy. ®