Microsoft is building a custom version of Windows 10 for China’s government, which will see security and patching delivered by its joint venture with a state-owned company.
Microsoft is making headway again in China after its run in with China’s competition regulator last year and a later ban on Windows 8 on government PCs, many of which still run the no-longer supported Windows XP. Indeed, the lack of patching for XP was one of the reasons why China hoped its homegrown Linux-based NeoKylin OS could fill the void.
Microsoft has announced it’s made progress on a custom image of Windows 10 that it’s been developing with state-owned firm, China Electronics Technology Group. The pair are setting up a joint venture called C&M Information Technologies that will handle the nuts and bolts of Windows maintenance for Windows 10 government PCs, should the custom image be approved.
According to Microsoft. the joint venture will be the exclusive licensor and distributor for government and critical infrastructure state-owned enterprise customers. These organisations will be offered a government-sanctioned Windows 10 image, including government selected antivirus.
It’s not clear if that means Microsoft’s anti-malware program Windows Defender will be set aside for whatever is selected by the government. The organisation will also provide product activation, patch management, deployment services and product support. It will also capture use requirements that feedback into future updates to the approved Windows 10 image.
The partnership goes beyond Microsoft’s long-running Government Security Program, under which it offers 44 different agencies from 26 governments access to its source code to check for things like backdoors. China signed up to GSP in 2003, the year the service launched.
Microsoft stressed that it will still maintain ownership of the of the core Windows 10 technology.
“We’ll continue to keep Windows 10 secure and sustain our strong privacy standards, while recognizing that public sector solutions may differ from technology offered to private sector enterprises and consumers around the world,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group.
News of the joint venture comes on the heels of a slew of deals with Chinese tech heavyweights, including Baidu, China’s answer to Google, which will help distribute Windows 10 to Chinese consumers.
China’s smartphone maker Xiaomi also agreed to deliver its Mi Cloud services from from Azure. Meanwhile, Microsoft and and its long term Chinese cloud infrastructure partner, 21Vianet, struck a deal to deliver hybrid cloud services to Chinese state-owned enterprise customers.