Considering the epic production and sales flop that Windows 8 has been, one probably does not need an actual sales ban from preventing anyone sane from using it let alone buying it, however in yet another symbolic step, banning its government employees from using the latest Windows operating system is precisely what China did in retaliation to yesterday's DOJ announcement it was charging five PLA members with hacking offenses against the US. According to Reuters, this latest blow to Microsoft came when the Central Government Procurement Center issued the ban as part of a notice on the use of energy-saving products. So Windows 8 lead to global warming? Who knew...
The implication is clear: if the US charges its hackers, China will no longer condone such porous proxies of NSA activity as Internet routers and, of course, Windows operating systems, which as has been documented in the past, is a stroll in the park for NSA infiltration attempts.
The official Xinhua news agency said the ban was to ensure computer security after Microsoft ended support for its Windows XP operating system, which was widely used in China.
Neither the government nor Xinhua elaborated on how the ban supported the use of energy-saving products, or how it ensured security.
China has long been a troublesome market for Microsoft. Former CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly told employees in 2011 that, because of piracy, Microsoft earned less revenue in China than in the Netherlands even though computer sales matched those of the U.S. Microsoft declined to comment.
Last month, Microsoft ended support for the 13-year-old XP to encourage the adoption of newer, more secure versions of Windows. This has potentially left XP users vulnerable to viruses and hacking.
"China's decision to ban Windows 8 from public procurement hampers Microsoft's push of the OS to replace XP, which makes up 50 percent of China's desktop market," said data firm Canalys.
And while this escalation in Chinese "sanctions" against the US may lead to a modest topline miss for MSFT, one company everyone should be watching is Cisco, which in late 2013 saw its China sales crater when the anger at the NSA was most acute. Now that the animosity between the US and China over cyberhacking has been rekindled, watch for the government to promptly block yet another quarter of sales growth for the switching giant, whose CEO unsucessfully pleaded for Obama to tone down NSA tensions over the weekend, and which should preannounce a weak quarter shortly.