China to launch own operating system

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Reuters Shanghai

CHINA could have a new homegrown operating system by next month to take on imported rivals such as Microsoft, Google and Apple, Xinhua news agency said yesterday.

Computer technology has become an area of tension between China and the US after a number of run-ins over cyber security. China is now looking to help its domestic industry catch up with imported systems such as Microsoft’s Windows and Google’s mobile operating system, Android.

The operating system would first appear on desktop devices and later extend to smartphones and other mobile devices, Xinhua said, citing Ni Guangnan, who heads an official operating system development alliance established in March.

Ni’s comments were originally reported by the People’s Post and Telecommunications News, an official trade paper run by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

“We hope to launch a Chinese-made desktop operating system by October supporting app stores,” Ni told the trade paper.

Some Chinese operating systems already existed, but there was a large gap between China’s technology and that of developed countries, he added.

He hoped domestically built software could replace desktop operating systems within one to two years and mobile operating systems within three to five years.

In May, China banned government use of Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest operating system, a blow to the US technology firm’s business which raised fears China was moving to protect domestic firms. Microsoft is also under investigation for antitrust violations.

In March last year, Beijing said that Google had too much control over China’s smartphone industry through its Android mobile operating system and that it had discriminated against some local firms.

Mutual suspicions between China and the US over hacking have escalated over the past year following revelations by Edward Snowden, a former Dell contractor at the US’s National Security Agency, that US intelligence had planted “backdoor” surveillance tools on US-made hardware. The US Justice Department, meanwhile, indicted five Chinese military officers in May on counts of extensive industrial espionage.

Ni said the ban on Windows 8 was a big opportunity for the Chinese sector to push forward its own systems, but that the industry needed further development and investment.

“Creating an environment that allows us to contend with Google, Apple and Microsoft – that is the key to success.”


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