News Column

Experts predict local OS will be ready by October

August 25, 2014

Gao Yuan



Domestic software developers set to benefit from localization plans

Homegrown operating systems face a bumpy road to replace their overseas counterparts. But for Chinese OS developers, it is a matter of now or never, industry insiders said.

They said they believe the recent procurement ban on Microsoft Corp's Windows and the current leadership's determination to boost the domestic software industry offer Chinese providers a golden opportunity to catch up with overseas giants.

Windows will be replaced by Chinese operating systems two years from now, industry newspaper the People's Post and Telecommunications News reported on Monday, citing Ni Guangnan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

"China will launch a new desktop operating system that supports application downloads from online stores by October," Ni said, and in two years, this system can replace Windows. He added that a mobile version of the system will be unveiled roughly three years later.

The project is led by an OS development alliance established months ago. The State Information Center and Web safety firm Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd are among the most active partners in the alliance.

The Windows systems dominate the Chinese OS market.

In July, more than 86 percent of devices - including personal computers and smartphones - that connected to the Internet that month used Windows, according to data collector cnzz.com. Over half of the computers in the country are running Windows XP, a decade-old system that Microsoft stopped updating patches for earlier this year.

Google Inc's Android system took about 10 percent of market share, cnzz said.

Charlie Dai, principal consulting analyst at Forrester Research Inc, argued it will be hard for China to abandon Windows in the short run despite signs that the government intends to oust the world's most-used computing platform.

"Replacing an OS is a highly complicated project because of the compatibility challenges, security worries and cost issues," according to Dai.

"Windows has been used for years in various industries, which will make the shift more delicate. The customers have to consider the potential cost of the OS change although Microsoft is not favored," he said.

Chinese antitrust inspectors are probing the Windows series for signs of a monopoly. Microsoft's flagship OS - Windows 8 - was banned in central government offices because of security concerns.

Analysts said Chinese OS developers will likely get more business than ever because of the incidents. However, the shoes of overseas companies will be hard to fill.

"Microsoft's leading position in the market is almost unshakable. The company has formed a well-established ecosystem," said Wang Jingwen, a Shanghai-based analyst with industry consultancy Canalys.

Local providers have to compete with multinationals such as Microsoft and Oracle Corp for a share of the personal - and enterprise-use OS market.

Ni, a longtime supporter of software localization, said the real shot for Chinese firms lies in enterprise-use and government procurement sectors.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has vowed to boost made-in-China software in a bid to avoid security threats and help local firms expand.

Revenue in the software sector exceeded 3 trillion yuan ($480 billion) in 2013, a 23.4 percent surge year-on-year, according to statistics from the ministry.

Small Chinese vendors may get enough orders from government-related projects to survive if they can partner with stronger ones such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said Dai from Forrester.

"I don't think the market is big enough for every local OS maker to flourish," he added.

gaoyuan@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily08/26/2014 page13)


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Source: China Daily: Hong Kong Edition


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