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China has banned the use of Windows 8 by government officials, according to a Reuters report. The decision by the government’s central buying authority to nix the platform was announced as part of an energy-saving campaign, although no other details were forthcoming. Windows 8’s predecessor, Windows XP, was popular in China, but Microsoft(s msft) ended support for that version on April 8.
Another account of the decision, from Industry Leaders Magazine, reiterated that and included a statement from Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of China’s National Copyright Administration, who said:
“Security problems could arise because of a lack of technical support after Microsoft stopped providing services, making computers with XP vulnerable to hackers…Windows 8 is fairly expensive and will increase government procurement costs.”
He added that the government was negotiating with Microsoft on the issue.
A Microsoft spokeswoman responding to a request for comment said the China Central Government Procurement Center posted a notification Tuesday morning indicating that Windows 8 was excluded from the bidding. She wrote:
“We were surprised to learn about the reference to Windows 8 in this notice. Microsoft has been working proactively with the Central Government Procurement Center and other government agencies through the evaluation process to ensure that our products and services meet all government procurement requirements. We have been and will continue to provide Windows 7 to government customers. At the same time, we are working on the Window 8 evaluation with relevant government agencies. “
The Sino-Microsoft relationship could best be described as complicated. Microsoft has long complained about rampant software piracy in China. At the same time, it’s been wooing Chinese consumers and businesses and last year announced a partnership with 21ViaNet to bring its Azure public cloud to China.
China is also working on its own open-source mobile operating system as an attempt to wean itself off dependence on what it sees as American software “monopolies.”
This move comes shortly after news broke that the U.S. is prosecuting what it calls state-sponsored hackers for infiltrating American companies, including U.S. Steel, Westinghouse, Alcoa and SolarWorld among others.
This story was updated at 9:28 a.m. with Microsoft comment.