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China to ditch all Windows PCs by 2022 – could this be Linux’s time to shine?

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In a major blow to Microsoft, the Chinese government will be replacing all PCs that run Windows by 2022, and could instead use a Chinese-created Linux distro, such as Kylin Linux.

The order comes from the Chinese Communist Party Central Office, and is part of a drive to replace any computer that runs non-Chinese software, partly in response to the US government’s blacklisting of Chinese hardware.

Chinese government services have been ordered to replace 30% of Windows PCs by the end of 2020, a further 50% in 2021 and the final 20% by the end of 2022.

According to China Securities (as reported by MSPowerUser), this will mean that around 20 to 30 million PCs could end up being replaced.

Bad news for Microsoft, good news for Linux?

That’s a huge number of Windows devices that could end up being ditched. However, there is a bit of a relief for Microsoft, as the Chinese Communist Party Central Office’s directive is only aimed at government services, not private Chinese companies, and they still make up the bulk of Microsoft’s Chinese revenue.

However, it’s likely that even private companies will feel the pressure to ditch Windows and move to a Chinese-created operating system.

Microsoft has in the past tried to hold on to its Chinese customer base by offering a Chinese Government Edition of Windows 10 back in 2017, but that doesn't appear to have been enough. Instead, the Chinese government will switch to a Chinese-developed operating system, and Linux could be the natural choice.

There are several Chinese Linux distros in existence already, or the Chinese government could make its own.

This could bring an influx of new users to Linux, which would be a boost for the open source operating system, though it’s likely that any distro the Chinese government uses would be heavily modified and restricted.

On paper, this could be good news for Linux. However, any OS the Chinese government uses will likely be heavily regulated and censored, which is contrary to what the Linux and open source communities stand for.

The process of moving millions of users from Windows to Linux – or whatever operating system the Chinese government decides on – will also be a time consuming and complex task. However, if it means that US software is not being used by the Chinese government, this is a price the Chinese Communist Party Central Office will see as worth paying.

Via Financial Review