While much attention has been focused on the new Surface Pro laptop Microsoft has launched in Shanghai on Tuesday, the company also announced a special build of its operating system for China.
Dubbed the Windows 10 China Government Edition, the new OS is a product of over a year of collaboration with local trader China Electronics Technology Group Corp (CETC) to build a version of Windows that the Chinese government would feel comfortable using.
"The Windows 10 China Government Edition is based on Windows 10 Enterprise Edition, which already includes many of the security, identity, deployment, and manageability features governments and enterprises need," said Windows boss Terry Myerson.
"The China Government Edition will use these manageability features to remove features that are not needed by Chinese government employees, like OneDrive, to manage all telemetry and updates, and to enable the government to use its own encryption algorithms within its computer systems."
Details are very thin about what else is missing compared to the Windows 10 builds available in the West. Presumably a lot less information is collected by the notoriously data-hungry OS, and little of it is likely to flow to Redmond's servers. Any info that is extracted is almost certainly staying in China.
In the wake of the Snowden revelations, China demanded to see the source code of some computer products sold within its borders, including those from Microsoft. Redmond refused, but the new joint venture appears to have found favor with the Middle Kingdom mandarins by letting them add their own security code.
It's a market Microsoft is desperate to stay in. A lot of Chinese government offices use Windows, and most of them now pay for it. In the past, China was a hotspot for pirated versions of the operating system. However, a sustained campaign by Microsoft and the Chinese government has ensured that most copies of the OS used are now legal.
There's no firm release date yet for the new operating system, but Lenovo will be including it in its offerings and trials have been announced at China Customs, the Shanghai local government offices, and state-owned enterprise Westone Information Industry. ®