CHINA HAS REVEALED PLANS for another attempt to develop its own PC operating system (OS) to replace Microsoft Windows.
Rumours of a dedicated China OS have been circulating ever since Microsoft ended support for Windows XP in April.
China banned its government offices from installing Windows 8 as Chinese government paranoia about all things American ratcheted up earlier this year, culminating in a news report carried by Chinese state television declaring that Windows 8 is an instrument of American spyware.
The Chinese government has just begun an inquiry as to whether the bundling of programs such as Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player within Windows is anti-competitive. A similar ruling was made against Microsoft in Europe leading to optional "N" editions of Windows 7 which omitted them.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the new operating system, the name of which has not been revealed, could become available as early as October, with a mobile version to follow within three to five years.
A government-sanctioned PC operating system is not just meant to replace Windows but also to deter Chinese mobile phone makers such as Xaomi from customising the Android OS.
Previous attempts to build a Chinese PC operating system have met with mixed success. 2000's Red Flag Linux met with some success but eventually went bust without generating sizeable market share.
Kylin has been used in Chinese supercomputers, but has given way to Ubuntu Kylin, a Linux variant optimised for the Chinese market.
It is not clear if the proposed PC operating system will be a formal investment in Ubuntu Kylin, a new development effort based on the Linux kernel, or something else written from the ground up.
The development has parallels with fellow Communist state North Korea, which advocates the exclusive use of the Linux-based Red Star OS, released in 2002, on the few computers that are available to the general public. It resembles Mac OS X, superficially at least, but is doubtless riddled with surveillance spyware and has an adapted Mozilla web browser that is able to access only a tightly walled garden. µ