For most US tech organizations, getting a product launched in China is no easy feat. Adhering to the country’s strict censorship laws often means the onus is on a company to filter out any ‘sensitive’ content from its services.
Certain US firms, such as Apple, reportedly kowtow to the Chinese government by censoring their services in the country. Google, on the other hand, pulled out of China completely in 2010 after the company said it was no longer comfortable filtering its search results.
Now, Microsoft has created a version of Windows 10 for use in Chinese governmental offices and state-owned enterprises, one which includes “more management and security controls.”
Called Windows 10 Zhuangongban, or Windows 10 Specially-provided Edition, this specialized version of the operating system was created by Microsoft in collaboration with Chinese state-run technology and defense company CETC. In addition to the extra "security" features, many of the services and apps found in the consumer version of Windows 10 have been removed, likely replaced by the Chinese-approved versions.
Microsoft announced its intentions to create a region-specific Windows 10 back in December. The company's China CEO, Ralph Haupter, told Chinese magazine Caixin that the first version of the software was complete. He didn’t precisely say how this edition differed from the traditional Windows 10, but given China’s fondness for surveillance, these “security controls” will probably mean more ways for the country’s government to keep a close watch on users.
Microsoft lost a lot of money when Windows 8 was banned from Chinese government PCs back in 2014. Creating a version of the OS specifically for the region – one that has the backing of the country’s rulers and runs Windows programs – will no doubt prove lucrative for the company.