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china sez no to NT5 aka W2000
Chinese fly Red Flag with ban on
By David Rennie in Beijing
CHINA is to ban its vast bureaucracy from using
Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 2000 software in favour
of a home-grown system known as "Red Flag".
The official Yangcheng Evening News said the policy
would save billions of pounds, and represent a triumph of
self-reliance comparable to the development of China's
first atomic bomb. "The country's important government
ministries will not permit the use of Microsoft Windows
2000 on their computers," the paper said, citing senior
officials. Instead, they would use the "Red Flag" Chinese
operating system based on the rival "Linux" platform.
Older versions of Windows currently dominate the
burgeoning computer industry in China, though few of the
millions of copies sold earn a single cent for the company's
founder, Bill Gates. Chinese state-backed software experts
have alleged that Windows contains a secret "back door"
allowing data to flow to Microsoft when a computer is
logged on to the Internet, jeopardising government security.
Officials at the Ministry of Information Industry said a
formal ban was unlikely in the near future. An official said
yesterday: "But the government is advocating that users buy
domestic software." The reports are a fresh public
relations problem for Microsoft as it attempts to turn a
profit in the China market, which is marked by alternating
hero-worship of Mr Gates and outbreaks of prickly
Microsoft has poured resources into China. But the
company has also made enemies by launching legal actions
against some of the countless firms that steal its software.
Up to 90 per cent of software used in China is pirated,
including much of the programming used by government
Mr Gates is said by local Microsoft executives to have
sanctioned one innovative solution, agreeing to pose for
photographs with senior Chinese managers who sign a
belated software licensing agreement at $1 million
(£600,000) a time. For all such efforts, Microsoft's China
managing director abruptly quit the firm last year, accusing
Mr Gates of failing to understand or respect local
Wu Shihong later maintained that Microsoft had forced
local firms to steal its products by setting its prices too
high. Ms Wu's Western colleagues recall her as a fiery
patriot who held an emotional company protest meeting
after Nato's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.
In China she has become a heroine.