The Chinese government is paranoid about security. That’s a gross understatement. And that’s even the reason the government banned the use of Windows on government computers back in 2014. But Microsoft has been sidling up to the Chinese government, and has developed a special edition of Windows 10 to put their minds at ease about security, and surveillance by the U.S.
What Microsoft finally came up with was a Windows 10 China Government Edition that has “more management and security controls” and less bloatware.”
At the May 23 event in Shanghai where the new Surface Pro was launched, Microsoft announced the new Windows 10 version, which is based on the Windows 10 Enterprise edition, but as a few additional security and privacy tweaks to satisfy Chinese officials.
The new OS version is designed to work with the Chinese government’s own encryption algorithms to secure data. It also disallows access to features like OneDrive, which is basically Microsoft’s cloud storage service, and could pose a security risk for the Chinese government.
Telemetry is another area that was of major concern, and it extends to individual users as well. Telemetry, or usage data, is typically collected by Windows 10 and sent to Microsoft for analysis. Users in other parts of the world do not have the option to turn off telemetry on Windows 10 – they merely have a right to decide what gets sent. But even that has been a controversial subject for Microsoft. The Chinese government version of Windows 10, however, gives complete control of telemetry over to the end user’s admins.
That’s the kind of Windows 10 that the rest of the world actually needs, in our opinion. Telemetry does help user experience in the long run, but if it’s done at the cost of the end user’s peace of mind, then it’s better not to have it at all.
In a Windows blog post, executive vice president Terry Myerson wrote:
“The Chinese government has the highest standards for security.”
We’re pretty sure he’s referring to the level of paranoia exhibited by their government clients in China, but the fact remains that this is the type of user security and privacy that Microsoft owes all its users, not just the ones who decide to shun the OS altogether if Microsoft doesn’t comply.
Windows 10 is a critical part of Microsoft’s plans for the future, be it devices, software or cloud. That’s why it’s so important that they get back into China in a big way with Windows 10. Three government groups have already announced their intentions to adopt Windows 10 China Government Edition at various levels – the City of Shanghai, Westone Information Technology and China Customs. That covers national, state and enterprise levels of adoption, which is a great start for the new OS version.
The world’s second largest PC maker, Lenovo, a China-based conglomerate, has stepped up to become the first OEM partner that will make and sell devices preloaded with Windows 10 China Government Edition.
We only wish that this particular edition be made available to enterprise and pro users around the world, so we can get more control over telemetry and pre-installed apps, and enjoy a bloatware-free Windows 10 experience.
Open question: Can large-scale enterprises now force Microsoft’s hand to provide the Windows 10 China Government Edition for their own deployment?