China bans Windows 8 from government computers

Government ties the decision to security concerns, though it's unclear what will replace the still-widely-used Windows XP.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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A look at Windows 8 Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

The Chinese government has officially banned Windows 8 from use on all government computers, reports out of the country claim.

The Xinhua news agency, one of the government's media mouthpieces, reported that the move was designed to improve security on government computers. Neither the government nor Xinhua explained how the ban would ensure security, Reuters noted.

The news comes at a time when animosity between China and the US is high. On Monday, the US charged several Chinese government officials with allegedly hacking networks in the US. China quickly responded by saying that the US has engaged in cyberespionage and cried foul on the charges.

The decision to nix Microsoft's operating system on government computers was made last week, Reuters reports, so it didn't relate to Monday's charges.

For Microsoft, the ban is just the latest in a long line of issues the company has faced in China. Microsoft has long accused China of being a center of Windows piracy. In July 2012, Microsoft accused nine Chinese computer resellers of running unlicensed software ahead of the launch of Windows 8. The company has also tried working with the government to ease the effect of illegal copying, but those efforts have yet to bear fruit.

It's not clear from the reports what the Chinese government will use for computer operating systems now that Windows 8 is off the table. Windows XP is still widely used in China, but after Microsoft ended support for that platform in April, it too would present a security risk to the government. Windows 7 is still an option, but Xinhua did not say what the government has decided.

CNET has contacted Microsoft for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.

Microsoft shares are down .38 percent, or 15 cents, in pre-market trading on Tuesday.