MS-Windows now also illegal in China

After the good initiative last week by the German government to decide that all software used in governmental applications should provide a security guarantee, China yet again follows the German example.

Last week, the German government decided that all software that is to be used from here on by governmental services and suppliers integrating in the supply chain, should be guaranteed secure. Since MS-Windows and other closed source software uses obfuscated code, the security cannot be objectively guaranteed, which means that it's out. De facto, this means that MS-Windows is now actually illegal for future use on governmental computers and in the governmental supply chain computers. Microsoft has confirmed earlier this year that it will be opening up "transparency stores" all over the world, one being planned in Brussels in Europe, to provide governments insight in the obfuscated code used in MS products, but that cannot prevent Microsoft from seeing it's software console outlawed by this new legislation, because of two things: 1. Even if MS shows code to the governments, it - by the design of their products - cannot guarantee that the software on the end user side is actually identical to the software of which they have shown the code, and 2. In Europe, there are strict rules about government transparancy, which means that if the government would decide that - based on viewing the code at the MS transparency store - MS-Windows would be secure, this decision would not be valid without showing the public WHY it is secure, in other words, the government would have to open source the code MS has shown them in the transparency store, as part of the fundamentals of the democratic power mandate the people give the government.

This seals a long lasting battle between Microsoft and Germany, which started back in 2002, when Munich, the capital of Germany's state Bavaria, decided to make a custom linux distro for itself, to avoid all of the problems with expensive and unreliable commercial closed source software, in the first place Microsoft products. Microsoft started legal battles with Munich and held the project of migrating entirely to linux back for years, even Steve Ballmer himself held a private linux bashing campaign and came over to Munich to make a fool of himself. Ten years later, Munich has entirely migrated it's over 20000 PC's to it's own custom linux distro called LiMux (based on Debian) and LibreOffice and other open source application software, and has saved more than 15000000 Euros in the process, and has no reliability and security problems any more, so it was a big success.

China had been following the Munich project attentively. In the past, they struck a deal with RedHat to provide an open source base for an official Chinese linux distro, called RedFlag linux. However, recent developments in the RedHat policy caused China to stop funding the RedFlag project, and instead use Ubuntu Core code for the Chinese community project "Ubuntu Kylin", which is not controlled by Canonical, and which has in only a few months time grown out to be the most popular Ubuntu distro overall. Last week, China decided to fund the development of an "official" Ubuntu Kylin version, entirely maintained in China and optimized for the Chinese market.

Yesterday, China completed the clean-up by officially outlawing MS-Windows on all governmental computers and governmental supply chain computers. China does not have to observe the strict democratic rules of a free market economy, so - unlike Germany - they didn't make a law that only allows guaranteed secure software, but they directly outlawed Microsoft products. In the end, the immediate net result seems the same, but it isn't, because where the German - democratic and objective - rule of law uses a positive criterion (the software used has to be secure and it has to be proven objectively), this ensures that no "spiked" software can be used at all, whereas the Chinese decision, that uses a negative criterion (Microsoft Windows software is illegal), still allows for "spiked software" to be implemented, and this means that Ubuntu Kylin is NOT going to be secure software if you read between the lines. And this is a problem for everybody, because Ubuntu Kylin is de facto going to be the successor of Canonical Ubuntu, which is not going to last much longer as Canonical disassembles all of its community links and services and has thrown out all of the Ubuntu community releases (the non-Unity versions). It's already become very clear that this is the best thing that ever happened to the non-Unity Ubuntu distros, because their quality and release speed already blows away what Canonical can produce, but all of the community distros are still based on the Ubuntu Core, which is mainly still maintained by Canonical. If China takes over the maintaining of the Ubuntu Core from Canonical, which at this point seems very likely to happen within the next 1-2 years, that might have a serious impact on the security of the Ubuntu Core, which is used by dozens of community linux distros.

So whereas it's a really good thing that commercial malware like MS-Windows is outlawed, it's not a good thing that China didn't impose an objective security criterion like Germany did.

"[..] Chinese community project "Ubuntu Kylin", which is not controlled by Canonical, and which has in only a few months time grown out to be the most popular Ubuntu distro overall."

In all honesty, this is not necessarily because it's such a great distro, but because it is sponsored by the Chinese government and tailored to the Chinese people.

I actually see banning Windows 8 as being partly motivated by the accusations made by the US government that the Chinese spied on American companies. I'm dumbfounded, the diplomatic purpose of such statements completely eludes me.

Either way, it's good that less people use Windows.

The problem is that everyone in the world sees the US cyber warfare aggressions as acts of war, but the US sees it as a "normal" and "legal" and even "moral" way reinforce their industry (industrial spying), their tax system (total surveillance of the Bahamas under the anti-terrorism provisions) and their governmental culture (the fact that US companies are obliged, basically under punishment of death, to incorporate spyware into their products under the Patriot Act).

Cria cuervos y te sacaran los ojos...

whoa, crazy. thanks for the article zoltan.