Microsoft has begun rolling out a variant of its Windows 10 operating system with customisations requested by the government of China, in a minority partnership with local firm China Electronics Technology Group.
The Chinese government has been putting the screws to software giant Microsoft for years: its Windows 8.1 operating system was banned from consideration
as a replacement for the end-of-life Windows XP on government systems in the country due to security concerns - though whether these concerns were with regard to US companies having a back-door into Chinese government systems or newer versions of Windows being resistant to attack by Chinese information security departments and thus less handily monitored was never clarified. Regardless, and despite the country's whopping yet dropping rate of software piracy, Microsoft has been attempting to convince the government to reverse its ban - and appears to have succeeded by writing a semi-customised version of Windows 10 specifically for the Chinese government.
Windows 10's Chinese variant has been produced in partnership with local firm China Electronics Technology Group, which formed a joint venture in which Microsoft is in the minority: 51 per cent of the newly-formed company is held by China Electronics Technology and 49 per cent held by Microsoft, giving the Chinese firm majority control. While Microsoft has been offering customised versions of its operating systems into regional and governmental markets for years, this marks the first time it has publicly ceded control of the company responsible for its development and distribution.
According to local news outlet Caixin
, the first modified Windows 10 build has now been provided to the Chinese government in order to finally migrate them off the long-unsupported Windows XP which proliferates its networks. Microsoft's He Lok Fu described the joint venture as 'an important milestone
,' and explained that the modified release removes certain applications and changes how the systems can be managed from a central point while also tweaking the security subsystems to meet China's official governmental requirements.