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Lenovo: Genuine, Licensed Windows on Most of Its Chinese PCs

Officials at the largest Chinese PC manufacturer tells Microsoft that most of its Chinese PCs now have legitimate, licensed Windows installed.

(Bellevue, Wash.) -- Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system has long been popular in China. The problem has been getting Chinese users to pay for legitimate copies.

On the eve of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit Tuesday to Microsoft's Redmond campus, company officials hope things are changing. Chinese government officials say they are serious about cracking down on widespread software piracy, and some computer makers are pledging to ship more computers with legitimate Windows software installed.

One of those companies, Lenovo Group Ltd., met Monday with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer to reaffirm Lenovo's 5-month-old commitment to ship computers with genuine operating systems. Microsoft held a similar meeting last week with Chinese computer manufacturer Founder Technology Group Corp., also among the companies that have pledged to promote legal Windows use.

Gates called the development "a major milestone in the very important relationship we have with Lenovo."

Although analysts say it could be some time before the promised changes have a significant effect on Microsoft's sales, the pledges are a feel-good backdrop for Hu's visit with Gates and other business and government executives.

Although analysts say it could be some time before the promised changes have a significant effect on Microsoft's sales, the pledges are a feel-good backdrop for Hu's visit with Bill Gates and other business and government executives.

Chinese government officials promised their U.S. counterparts last week to fight software piracy, as they tried to ease tension over the record trade gap between the two countries.

For Microsoft, the move is important because it sees China as a major market in which to grow revenues.

Lenovo, which last year bought IBM's personal-computer business, is the world's third-largest computer company. In an interview Monday with The Associated Press at a hotel in this Seattle suburb, Lenovo Chairman Yang Yuanquing said 70 percent of the computers Lenovo sells in China are now loaded with licensed Windows copies, up from 10 percent six months ago.

Yang said the Chinese government has been a major force behind the change, both by requiring government agencies and big companies to install legal software and by cracking down on piracy.

Lenovo expects to buy $1.2 billion worth of Microsoft software in the next 12 months, including about $200 million for the Chinese market.

The company also is eager to improve protections on intellectual property because of its own international aspirations.

"As we become a global company, an international company, we should be more proactive, certainly, to do something there, to be more responsible," Yang said.

Hu arrives in Seattle on Tuesday. In addition to touring Microsoft and being feted at a banquet at Gates' Lake Washington mansion, he will visit Boeing Co. and meet with government officials, including Gov. Chris Gregoire during his two-day stay.

At least three groups plan protests during Hu's visit: Taiwanese-Americans calling on China to let the island of Taiwan make its own decision about whether to rejoin the mainland; Tibetans seeking independence for their homeland; and practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement considered an "evil cult" by China's communist government, urging an end to oppression of followers there. Hundreds of people _ some coming from other coastal cities _ are expected to turn out for the main downtown protest Tuesday.

Associated Press Writer Peggy Andersen contributed to this report.

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