China escalates rhetoric in campaign to ban Windows 8

PCs are too expensive, foreign OS makers can steal data, government mouthpiece charges

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Moorhead believes it's much the same today.

"It's all about negotiation, negotiation up from 'free' for many people in China," Moorhead said, referring to China's reputation as a den of software pirates and echoing Chou. The government there is simply trying to pressure Microsoft into cutting it big discounts for Windows licenses, he argued.

Any effort by the Chinese government to divorce itself from Microsoft's software is probably destined for failure, Moorhead maintained, but not because there are no alternatives to Windows.

It's Office that has the stranglehold on the world. Only Office can provide the file fidelity necessary for business, Moorhead argued. "Chinese companies and organizations need to communicate with other companies and organizations around the world," he said. And Office is the lingua franca of the planet's commerce.

But he thought, assuming China continues to press the case, that it might move Microsoft to cut deals. "Microsoft is in it to win it on Office," said Moorhead. "But really, any money that Microsoft can get above zero is a win for them."

Also today, The People's Daily, the Communist Party's official organ, blasted some of the biggest Western technology companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google and Yahoo as pawns of the U.S. government's National Security Agency (NSA). "Foreign technology services providers such as Google and Apple can become cybersecurity threats to Chinese users," the publication said today.

Not coincidentally, Microsoft's general counsel, Brad Smith, took to a company blog to demand changes in U.S. surveillance policies to, as he put it, "Reduce the technology trust deficit it has created." Microsoft, Google and others have repeatedly urged Washington to push reforms because their global business has been affected by foreign governments' fury over surveillance practices.

"The video did not mention security concerns and/or political tensions between the U.S. and China that may have led to this," Chou said. "The government would of course be hard-pressed to delve into that on a national news channel."

Nor did it quote anyone outside government, said Ian Lamont, a former Computerworld editor and Mandarin speaker who also pitched in with a partial translation. "They were asking how local government offices in Beijing and Jiangsu are dealing with the ban, but didn't ask companies or people, maybe because no one wanted to come out and criticize a central government directive."

According to the May missive from the Central Government Procurement Center, the Windows 8 ban does not apply to individuals or businesses, which remain free to choose the OS.

The CCT segment on Windows 8 can be viewed from the network's Chinese-language website.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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