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Beijing leans on Microsoft to maintain Windows XP support

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The Chinese government has urged Microsoft to extend support for Windows XP in order to boost Beijing’s anti-piracy efforts and head off a potentially huge security threat.

Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of China’s National Copyright Administration, met Microsoft and other software companies in a bid to put some pressure on, according to Techweb.

He apparently claimed that ending support for Windows XP would create serious security risks for many machines in the PRC, with opportunistic cyber criminals looking to exploit vulnerabilities in the software once security updates end on April 8th 2014.

It’s no secret that China is still heavily reliant on the prehistoric OS – according to StatCounter, it had a market share in the Middle Kingdom of just over 50 per cent last month – so there would appear to be some justification to Yan’s concerns.

Having played the security card, he also appeared to suggest that Microsoft had made things difficult for Chinese users by halting sales of a low-priced version of Windows 7 – the second most popular OS in the country with around 40 per cent market share.

The argument here is that funnelling Chinese users towards a higher-priced Windows 8 will only result in greater instances of software piracy, something the central government appears finally to be acting on.

Last July Beijing spent US$160 million (£102m) to replace pirated software in central and provincial government offices with the genuine article – the second phase in a national plan to eradicate software piracy in the public sector.

If some of this outlay was on XP licenses, the Chinese government really has only itself to blame. It’s not as if Redmond has been keeping its OS plans a secret.

For the record, China remains one of the world's worst offenders when it comes to software piracy.

It had a piracy rate of 77 per cent, or an industry worth around US$9 billion in 2011, according to the Business Software Alliance. ®

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