Microsoft Alters Windows 10 to Please China

John Lister's picture

Microsoft has finished work on a special edition of Windows 10 for Chinese users. It appears to be designed to keep the country's authoritarian government happy. The edition is known as Windows 10 Zhuangongban, which translates as Specially Provided Edition, and will be aimed mainly at government agencies and government-owned businesses.

The new software is described in an article on Chinese website Caixin, though its unclear how free the site was to cover the news without either direct censorship or self-censorship.

Software Meets 'Special Needs'

Based on an automated Google translation, the software has been designed to be "safe and controlled" in line with government requirements. Microsoft's Chinese chief said the edition "may remove some of the special edition for consumer applications and features to enhance the product's ease of management and security, to meet the special needs of the Chinese government." (Source:

The precise details aren't being revealed, but it appears safe to assume that the enhanced management and security tools are not for the benefit of the individual users, but rather for the Chinese government.

It also appears some standard applications bundled with Windows won't be included in the software. However, a Microsoft official said users will be able to install any compatible Windows application as normal.

Last December, Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi said it would never cede control of Windows itself: "We will maintain ownership of the core Windows 10 technology while working, as we've always done, to allow customers and partners to build components that plug into our platform." (Source:

Government Previously Banned Windows 8

All of this is a big change considering that the Chinese government just two years ago decided to ban the installation of Windows 8, citing security concerns. It seemed to be an odd move, given that many Chinese users were still running Windows XP, even after it stopped getting security updates.

Many government computers in China currently run a special Linux-based system called NeoKylin, a sort-of Windows XP clone which was created in the country and funded by the state.

What's Your Opinion?

Is Microsoft right to produce a special edition just for Chinese government machines? Does this deal raise any ethical concerns given China's human rights and censorship record? Or should Microsoft take the attitude that the (paying) customer is always right?

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gmthomas44_4203's picture

The customer is always right, just ask the Chinese Government. If they didn't kill millions of "customers" during the Mao regime, their population would be out of control and not be able to enjoy the wonderments of Win10 Special Chinese Edition.

matt_2058's picture

There may be ethical concerns, but if that is thrown into the mix it should be for every other entity. China is human rights, Switzerland is money, UK has 2/3 of the 16 Non-Self Governing Territories(colonialism), US and UK deal to spy on each others citizens, North Korea's nuclear ICBM capability(along with United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel having nuclear), the death penalty ( China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, United States being the top 5 of 22 executioners in 2014), etc. The list of ethics issues and intensities is endless. Where does that leave MS? It's their business and their choice.

MS may find more satisfied customers if they offer a few different builds, something completely different than home vs pro. Many businesses, and maybe governments, don't need some of the standard features. I might even try something like that if available, a basic Windows OS for me to load software I actually use.

spiras's picture

Especially Chinese money. There is no way Microsoft could have ignored a lucrative market of such order of magnitude if it is to remain in business. Lofty ideals are fine in election campaigns, but if you insist on them to the letter in commercial dealings, you'll remain with the ideals and your competitors with the money.

Sorry if I sound cynical, but that's life.