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Microsoft cosies up to China with Win8 weibo support

Sina Weibo users accounted for in People app

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Hot on the heels of Apple’s China love-in at its Worldwide Developers Conference this week, news has emerged that Microsoft is planning to integrate the country’s hugely popular Sina Weibo micro-blogging platform into Windows 8.

Jeff Kunis, a group program manager on the Windows Live team, revealed the news in a comment at the end of a lengthy blog post (via LiveSide) about the new operating system’s People app.

“As you can see in the screenshots we continue to add partners such as China's Sina Weibo, and we would be happy to see Google provide the equivalent APIs for Google+ like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn do,” he wrote.

The People app is described by Microsoft as an address book for users’ social media contacts. With a subscriber base of well over 300 million, Sina Weibo's user population is well worth including in People, even if it is only available to Chinese language speakers.

Apple made similar efforts to cosy up to Chinese users with several announcements at WWDC this week including Mandarin and Cantonese language support in Siri, and integration with search engine Baidu, Sina Weibo and video sharing sites Tudou and Youku in the forthcoming Mountain Lion OS.

They might have Windows 8 and Mountain Lion integration to look forward to, but Sina’s users are still severely restricted in what they can say on the site.

A comprehensive new Harvard University study found that 13 per cent of all social media posts in China are censored, with the ultimate goal of suppressing “collection action potential”, or protests. ®

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