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Beijing signs MS deal with Gates, Linux deal with IBM

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The Register's department of strange coincidences notes the announcement of not one but two software co-operation initiatives in Beijing this week. Today Microsoft announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding between it and the Beijing Municipal Government, while earlier this week IBM China and the Beijing Municipal Government announced the set up of the "China-IBM Linux Solution Cooperation Center."

IBM worldwide seems to have chosen to be bashful about this one, but it's been released in China, and the start date for the Linux Center was February 24th, three days ahead of when Bill Gates himself was scheduled to sign on the dotted line. The Linux Center is intended "to promote the development of Chinese software system which has China independent intellectual property," which we take to mean it will be working on Chinese versions of Linux software. IBM's Linux partner Red Hat may be involved in this, but if so the company is also being shy.

That announcement may have provided some useful leverage for Gates' trip. In both cases the Municipal Government's Informatization Office was involved, and the Government and Microsoft "will carry out cooperation in e-government, software outsourcing and training of software professionals." As a sweetener Microsoft is investing in a PC Innovations Lab in Beijing. Microsoft said it was investing $2.2 million in this, but The Register's sources say Microsoft's total planned spending in China has several more zeroes on the end of it.

The Lab will provide quality assurance and driver compliance testing for local PC manufacturers, which will be helpful for exporting, and will also "collaborate with Chinese companies to jointly develop valuable IP and bring to market cutting edge PC technologies." Interestingly, "Microsoft will directly or indirectly provide software outsourcing orders to software companies in Beijing," and is backing this with training, which sounds like it will be helping the Chinese to position themselves to benefit from Microsoft's global outsourcing plans. ®

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