China Doesn't Need Chairman Bill - InformationWeek
Software // Enterprise Applications
11:05 AM
[Dark Reading Crash Course] Finding & Fixing Application Security Vulnerabilitie
Sep 14, 2017
Hear from a top applications security expert as he discusses key practices for scanning and securi ...Read More>>

China Doesn't Need Chairman Bill

Could Microsoft be on the verge of 'losing' China as a major market? Could China's open-source developers play an important role in this turn of events, leaving Microsoft with no room to grow in the world's largest country?

Could Microsoft be on the verge of 'losing' China as a major market? Could China's open-source developers play an important role in this turn of events, leaving Microsoft with no room to grow in the world's largest country?

For several years now, the Chinese government has promoted a policy that requires agencies to buy technology products from local vendors whenever possible. Although authorities have enforced the "buy local" rule sporadically, many local and regional governments have ignored the rule to work with foreign firms--including Microsoft.

A few weeks ago, the tables turned again. Senior leaders in China's national government reportedly demanded that the Beijing municipal government cancel a proposed deal with Microsoft. In real financial terms, the blown deal won't equal a rounding error on Redmond's balance sheet. As a symbolic gesture and a sign of things to come, however, it could spell serious long-term problems for Microsoft's China strategy.

Microsoft clearly needs the Chinese government. With software piracy rates running over 90 percent among both consumers and businesses, government customers are among the few likely to buy licenses for Microsoft products.

China, however, doesn't need Microsoft, thanks in part to the country's flourishing open-source industry.

For a few years now, groups such as Red Flag have delivered Linux distros with Chinese language support and other changes for local use. Recent joint development efforts, including the PalmSource-China MobileSoft deal to produce a Linux-based version of the Palm OS, reflect the growing skill and international prominence of China's open-source developers. In addition, both Intel and IBM recently got into the act, launching recent efforts to promote, service and support their respective hardware platforms among Chinese open-source users.

The most insidious problem for Microsoft , however, is one that has plagued the company for years: allegations that Windows code hides U.S. government-designed "back door" software. Whether or not Windows serves as a Trojan horse for the CIA, enough Chinese government officials believe the tale to give it the weight of truth. Plus Microsoft's only real option for answering the claim--open the entire Windows source code base--just isn't going to happen.

Where does all of this leave Microsoft? In a corner, for once. And this time it's the open-source developers who, for once, have the rest of the room to work.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
[Interop ITX 2017] State Of DevOps Report
[Interop ITX 2017] State Of DevOps Report
The DevOps movement brings application development and infrastructure operations together to increase efficiency and deploy applications more quickly. But embracing DevOps means making significant cultural, organizational, and technological changes. This research report will examine how and why IT organizations are adopting DevOps methodologies, the effects on their staff and processes, and the tools they are utilizing for the best results.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll