Security Watch

China to Microsoft: Continue XP Support or See a Rise in Pirated Windows 8

Plus: Microsoft takes steps to stop government censorship of Skype calls in China.

Look, we all know that China isn't known for legally acquiring all its software. But it's working on it. As of 2012, it took many steps to curb rampant software piracy and saw the theft fall to its lowest numbers ever to 77 percent!

OK, there's more work to be done to continue this downward trend. However, officials in Beijing say Microsoft's decision to end official security support for its aging Windows XP will lead to the pirate rate edging up back to its all-time high point of 90 percent.

According to Techweb, Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of China's National Copyright Administration, recently met with both Microsoft officials and members of the Global Business Software Alliance that the combination of both XP's support coming to the end and the high prices of Windows 8 will not force the public to upgrade, but will lead in a dramatic increase in the use of cracked versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Windows XP still holds a 50.82 percent market share in China but has been steadily declining in favor of Windows 7, which is up to 40.42 percent, according to market analyst firm StatCounter. And like much of the world, Windows 8 has yet to make a big impact -- it sits with only 2.87 percent share.

Xiaohoang said he hopes that the high install base that Windows XP has, coupled with the fact that Windows 7 is no longer on the market will help to persuade Microsoft into extending its support of the decade-plus-old OS.

Microsoft has yet to say if it will be changing its plans on ending support for Windows XP, but my money's on "no".

Microsoft Halts Skype Censorship in China
What Microsoft has changed its course on is its previous agreement with the Chinese government to access Skype phone calls. The company has made it more difficult to monitor conversations from an outside source, according to Chinese censorship advocacy group GreatFire.

"After careful analysis of the new Skype, we believe that Microsoft have lifted all censorship restrictions on their China product," said a spokesperson for the advocacy group today.

Previously, Microsoft had partnered with Hong Kong's TOM Group. Skype calls would have to pass through TOM's servers, where regulations were in place to store and censor online interactions. Now, according to GreatFire, all communications will now be encrypted and flow through Microsoft via secure HTTPS channels.

"We praise Microsoft for making this change," said GreatFire. "We hope this is a harbinger of change to come not just from Microsoft but from all major internet players. It appears that Microsoft is indeed fighting back against censorship in China. We have been very critical of Microsoft and Skype in the past but today we applaud this development."

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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