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Microsoft Software

China Upgrades from Microsoft Office 385

Badgerman writes "According to this Forbes article, fifteen Chinese ministries have started using a homegrown office software suite instead of Microsoft Office. The article also notes the Chinese government's encouragment of homegrown software and of a national Linux standard."
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China Upgrades from Microsoft Office

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  • by Tpenta ( 197089 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:28AM (#6711698) Homepage
    When Telstra in Australia started walking down the path towards replacing Microsoft Office with Star Office, Steve Ballmer made a uick trip out to make some incredible offers to the people concerned.

    I wonder if teh ticket to CHina is booked yet.

  • by vbprgrmr ( 411532 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:29AM (#6711702)
    It does appear that the main driving force competing against Windows and associated applications is from other countries eager to save money. Once they show how it can be done, maybe the beancounters in American companies will follow their lead and take the linux plunge.
    • Wrong, wrong, wrong. WPS Office 2003 [hostingtech.com] is for Windows, not linux. So this isn't a victory for Linux, as the Chinese Government will run the office suite on windows.

      And protectionist anti-competitive policies for buying software is hardly something to celebrate. Governments should buy the best tool for the job, not try to prop up local industries.

      • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @02:03PM (#6713115)
        Wrong, wrong, wrong. WPS Office 2003 [hostingtech.com] is for Windows, not linux. So this isn't a victory for Linux, as the Chinese Government will run the office suite on windows.

        Not the whole story, from your link:

        The three teams are developing three versions of WPS Office: one is WPS for Linux, another is WPS Office 2003 for Windows, and the other is WPS Office V6 for both Linux and Windows.
        So assuming that the original story is exactly true, even if the initial order is for the Win version, it would be much easier to transition to the Linux version from the same company in a year or so, perhaps in lieu of buying the next Windows upgrade, or when hardware is replaced. The same strategy as Sun in releasing Star Office for Windows as well as Linux and SunOS. First break the MSOffice umbilical, then changing OS isn't so hard. No need to mess around with Crossover and such.
      • How arogant of you to assume that the Chinese developers couldn't build a tool that is better for them than the MS team. They live in China, know the people of China and their desires better, read/write and use Chinese keyboards constantly and have a far better understanding of their localised needs.

        Why is it that people cry out "protectionist" and anti-competitive at the first sign of some actual competetion. Yes that's right, for there to be competition there must be at *least* two companies and two prod

    • Since China is so big the economics of locally written software make a lot of good sense.

      Writing programs is expensive, but given enough desktops the cost per unit can be quite small.
    • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @09:02AM (#6711825)
      Active Directory, SMS, Exchange, Fileservers, MS Office all rolled up into large bundled licenses for the corporations.

      If they try to switch, they'll lose their bundled corporate licenses and have to start paying for the lot separately which is far more expensive *and* they'll have to pay for licenses for the new software at the same time.

      You have to give it to the CIOs of US multinational corps, when they take the bait, they have your arm off with it.
    • Years before Linux businesses were looking at public domain software as an easy way to cut costs.
      It just seammed a no-brainner to go to an open sourced operatining system like Linux but somewhere along the way Microsoft convenced the business secter that free software was dangerous and evil full of back doors and bugs and such things could bring a business to a crushing hault.
      Businesses got the idea that the needed secure and reliable software and the only way to get that was to buy it from Microsoft. I gue

    • Another reason appears to be security--and I don't mean the virus kind, I mean the "NSAKEY" kind. This was also mentioned in the article.

      The USA's aggrandizement of late has made a lot of our allies nervous, and a lot of our future enemies paranoid. If I was the Chief of IT in another superpower, I would indeed be very paranoid about the use of a product with which a) I ran all of my intelligence and administration tools, b) I couldn't see the internal workings of, c) had the capability of communication with a foreign power.

      Imagine if Mercedes was the only source for radio devices during WWII; the technology wasn't open enough for the US to build it themselves. Do you think the US would have happily accepted radio shipments from Germany, and depended upon them for their secure communications? Or would the US do their all to put in place a replacement that they could control themselves?

      The only way to make security guarantees that would satisfy me would to give me the code such that I can compile the app myself, which MSFT hasn't been willing to do, even with their Open program. There's nothing that Ballmer could say to me that would convince me otherwise--nothing that would let me sleep at night with my children in the Armed Service.

      I think the war in Iraq will prove to be very good for Linux.
  • I wish... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SolitaryMan ( 538416 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:29AM (#6711705) Homepage Journal
    The time when such stories won't be news is at hand!
  • by JamesP ( 688957 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:29AM (#6711708)

    Chinese President in his office...
    Picks up phone...

    "Who's this?"

    "Er. My name is Daryl McBride, from SCO cororation...Is it true that there are 1 billion computers using Linux in China?"


    "So that will be 699 billion dollars, please..."

    "Ok, we'll be sending the check any time soon"

    (hangs and calls defense minister)

    "Capture this McBride immediatly (ha,ha,ha)"

  • by Empiric ( 675968 ) * on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:30AM (#6711712)
    This brings to mind an idea relating to SCO's continuing absurdities in trying to own and/or destroy Linux.

    With a major communist government becoming increasingly invested in Linux, everyone can be assured there will be at least one completely unassailable source of Linux distribution and development, like:

    SCO: We'd like you to pay us, oh... [spins wheel-o-pricing] $1499 for each processor you're running Linux on...

    People's Republic of China: Did we mention our extensive nuclear arsenal, deployable to Utah within an hour?

    SCO: Oh... yes... nevermind.

    Given this, maybe Linux users can play the same game of arbitrary definition that SCO has been playing. If worse comes to worse, one could just say, "Oh, Linux? We're not running Linux here. We're running a non-infringing, custom, Linux-based operating system. Feel free to prove otherwise." And with a perpetual source of FTP servers to obtain the "Linux-based operating system", SCO would have a truly daunting task of stopping it or charging their hoped-for extortion fees.
  • Chinese Distros (Score:5, Informative)

    by spoonist ( 32012 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:32AM (#6711719) Journal

    Here are some example Chinese distros:

    Red Flag [redflag-linux.com]

    Cosix [cosix.com.cn]

    Magic Linux [magiclinux.org]

    XTeam [xteamlinux.com.cn]

    • by Anonymous Coward
      No list of Chinese Linux distributions would be complete without a link to Thiz [thizlinux.com] Linux [slashdot.org], the wonderful Chinese distro being sold on machines at Fry's ;)

      Rate Naked People [fuckmeter.com] at Fuck Meter! (Not work-safe)
  • Screenshots here (Score:5, Informative)

    by illtud ( 115152 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:32AM (#6711722)
    Courtesy of Google (loads of hits on WPS Office):

    http://www.pconline.com.cn/pcedu/soft/office/wps/1 0307/199035.html [pconline.com.cn]
  • by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@@@spamgoeshere...calum...org> on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:34AM (#6711728) Homepage
    But why are they writing their own, rather than taking the already very good OpenOffice.org, and working on that?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:34AM (#6711729)
    It seems that Billy-Boy gotta call George-Boy to get this axis of evil expanded a bit..
  • Ah memories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by segment ( 695309 ) <sil@ p o l i t r ix.org> on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:37AM (#6711734) Homepage Journal

    Some may remember some time ago when Germany also was going to yank MS products from being used by the German government. March 19th, 2001 - Two German government agencies have announced that they will discontinue the use of software made by Microsoft and other American companies. According to the German news publication Der Spiegel, both the German foreign office and the Bundeswehr (German Federal Armed Forces) have banned American software, saying that there are security concerns in using programs developed by other countries in sensitive applications. Instead, German companies such as Siemens and Deutsche Telekom will provide solutions (src: WinPlanet [winplanet.com])

    And now China... The government has been pushing the development of a homegrown software industry and a national standard for open-source Linux software to counter the spread of Microsoft in the last few years.

    This is not a bad idea, and if others took the same route, MS could feel it down the road. Considering the problems associated with MS nowadays (even though it has actually been rampant for some time), with worms, and all sorts of security issues, how long will it be before some huge class action lawsuit based on MS negligently releasing shoddy products. Think about it... It's the kind of stuff that makes the NSA want to place backdoors on software [cryptome.org], excuse being they're trying to secure products where vendors are failing.

    I say, good for China on making that move, hopefully others will take cues from China, and send MS a message. No more shoddy work!!! Just imagine what will hapen if some investigation pointed to an MS product being at fault for the power failure [orlingrabbe.com]. Oh boy would that be some crazy stuff to deal with for MS.

  • by Krapangor ( 533950 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:37AM (#6711737) Homepage
    as European countries in the 18th century: Ensuring that only raw materials are imported and swamp the whole world with cheap manufractured goods. This lead Europe to the world power it's today, so it will probably work the same for China.
    However this has some not so nice side-effects. Such gain cause a disbalance in world's economics. Like the colonial system ruined the countries belonging to the 3rd world today, Chinas politics will ruin the economics of their mains markets, too.

    However, the situation is a little different these days. In the 18th century Europe was also a military hyperpower without any opponents of the same strength. This is very different know. China has at least 3 opponents of the same military power: US, Europe, Russia. Even more the existence of weapons of mass destruction prevents China from turning the situation towards their favour. No matter how much weapons they produce, they'll be always extinguished in the case of a military conflict.

    So, I wonder were this will lead in the long term. We all know the problem China has with accepting the illectual or economic property rights of forgein people. However, the superpowers of the world will not accept this forever. Bush already demanded that China ceases the artificial devaluation of the Yong. There are GATT investigations against China and their Red Linux products. Perhaps something will change in the future.

    • I really don't follow this. There was no such thing as a cohesive entity called "Europe" in the 18th century. In fact the very idea of a unified Europe is new and came out of the utter devastation of two world wars. For hundreds of years, the countries of Europe have been competing very fiercely against each *other*. Especially in the colonial age. In fact if one looks at the EU *today* many of the countries still don't really see eye to eye on many things.

      China may have the US, Europe and Russia as r
    • If you want to get down to the nitty gritty and compare numbers, the Chinese have no competition when it comes to military strength. I remember reading a press release from NATO a few years back (no google hits otherwise i'd post a link) that stated even if EVERY NATO MEMBER COUNTRY provided EVERY able-bodied man and woman within the ages of 16 and 25 to a war effort against China, the most optimistic estimates of actual gains that could be made in taking chinese territory would be a handful of coastal cit
  • by Anonymous Coward

    why else would Bill and Steve sell most of their holdings , its not like they need the money

    Gates has sold over 6 million shares [yahoo.com] in August alone

    http://biz.yahoo.com/t/m/msft.html [yahoo.com]

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:48AM (#6711773) Journal
    Ah well at least he will rake up his frequent flyer miles.

    The company kingsoft [kingsoft.net] in chinese only with no option to change to english it seems. Found a dictionary type program that is sold in an english version but no english pages.

    However a few keyword sprung out. Linux for one. You see it seems this office suit runs on linux, this is significant because it is only hinted at in the forbes article. It means that they are not only replacing the office suite but the OS itself as well, since MS office doesn't run on linux they must have been using windows, and since this product seems only to run on linux and not on windows.

    Can anyone with an understanding of chinese or with better googling skills confirm this (that wps office2003 runs only on linux)?

    Also is this office product opensource or closed source?

    And finally, is it any good?

    • by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:59AM (#6711816) Homepage
    • It runs on Windows, sucks at importing MS Word documents (silently removed all of the footnotes from one paper of mine), and installs an obnoxious screensaver whose only purpose seems announcing to the world what office productivity suite you run. Go Kingsoft!

      But the Chinese language support is decent, and I'm going to guess that it saves its documents using the Guobiao standard -- which can be pretty useful if you want your documents to use the character-encoding standard mandated by the government.
  • by gellenburg ( 61212 ) <george@ellenburg.org> on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:52AM (#6711787) Homepage Journal
    Whether it be Star Office, Open Office, Word Perfect, ABI Word, Apple Works, etc.

    At a time when a lot of US Companies are looking at China as a smorgesboard of potential opportunity as it slowly evolves from a Communistic to Capitalistic society, no doubt Microsoft has looked there as well.

    Personally, I don't have a problem with China inventing their own CPU, or word processing software, but if they'd like to play nicely with others in this global economy, here's hoping that they at least stick to open and published standards.
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:53AM (#6711791) Homepage Journal
    Li Xue, a spokeswoman for Kingsoft, told Reuters the government bought 50,000 copies of WPS software in 2002, but declined to give a value for the purchase.

    Li Nux, a spokesperson for Kingsoft told Reuters the government bought 50,000 copies of WPS software in 2002, but declined to give a value for the purchase.

    I propose she change her last name to Nux, good for business. But in the long haul, Nix may be better....more names to choose from for the kids: Sco Yu Nix come here, you deserve a good spanking for that you naughty boy..take that *slap**slap*.

  • Upgrades (Score:5, Insightful)

    by florin ( 2243 ) * on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:55AM (#6711795)
    'upgrades' is nicely put. It's all about semantics. I always enjoy the unabashed way the MS propaganda department calls competing solutions 'legacy applications'. I think we should try to consistently refer to installing OpenOffice and Mozilla as upgrading and precede words like MS-Office and IE with the sentence 'legacy apps such as'
  • by clueless123 ( 643205 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:58AM (#6711803)
    I happen to be in Beijing right now (just visiting). This week I've gone to a lot of shopping malls and computer stores looking arround, and I can say there is a *whole* lot of Linux out here. I Guess that M$softs antipiracy efforts here have backfired bigtime, now PHB's (at least in the corporate environment I am working at) are thinking twice before using pirated copies of MS. Considering that a copy of Windoze cost as much as 1/2 a months salary for a full-time programer, it is now very appealing to move to linux.
  • by leoaugust ( 665240 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .tsuguaoel.> on Saturday August 16, 2003 @08:59AM (#6711811) Journal

    I just noticed that they have a homegrown version for the Office Software ...

    No comments on whether that is Open Source or Open Formats or not .... And no idea of whether it is going to be compatible with Open Office and MS Office ....

    Unless the chinese are adopting the "Linux Mindset" I don't think that this is necessarily a good thing .... If they are forcing an almost failed software on more than a billion people just by regulatory fiat, how could it be good ?? ....

    What they should be adopting is not something that is NOT Microsoft, but something that is "effectively" BETTER than MS Products .... I don't know that WPS Office even approaches there ...

    and the chinese can't get there by rejecting the linux mindset and copying the Microsoft strategy of denying free choice ....

    just my two cents worth ...

  • by dwheeler ( 321049 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @09:04AM (#6711835) Homepage Journal
    If China continues down this path, this could be very helpful to Open Office and other open source software office suites.

    Because "nearly everyone" uses Microsoft Office, it's extremely difficult for any competitor to enter the market - even if the competitor was always cheaper and manifestly superior. However, if large countries increasingly use products other than Microsoft Office, then countries will have to depend on something else than "everyone uses Microsoft Office" to exchange documents. I expect that "something else" to be either a standard document format, or to eventually standardize on some "other product".

    A marketplace where there are many competing office products, but a need to exchange office documents, strongly favors open source products. That's especially true if the open source product can run on any operating system, as Open Office can. It's no big deal to say "everyone, let's install Open Office for this project so we can safely exchange documents", since Open Office is free to download. I wouldn't be surprised to see countries other than the U.S. adopt other office suites first, such as Open Office, and then U.S. companies will be forced to support those products to communicate with their international partners, suppliers, offshore sites, and so on.

    I love to see real competition in any market. Perhaps this will be the start of real competition in office suites.

  • by dangermouse ( 2242 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @09:19AM (#6711884) Homepage
    The article does not say that the government upgraded from Microsoft Office. It says that they upgraded from an earlier version of the same software:
    The Ministry of Commerce, the Foreign Ministry and the National Security Bureau and other governmwent departments had upgraded to WPS Office2003
    from an earlier version developed by domestic software maker Kingsoft Co, the People's Daily newspaper reported.
    The big story seems to be that "it was the first large-scale software upgrade in government offices," which is really just not very interesting.
    • by Bushcat ( 615449 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @10:10AM (#6712076)
      Kingsoft is a major player in China, and also known elsewhere in the world for its Chinese dictionary solutions. See dictionaries here [china-guide.com] and Kingsoft here [kingsoft.net].

      Microsoft's perpetual problem in Asian markets is its inability to develop a character conversion system that people actually want to use. In Japanese, this is called Henkan and is the shim that converts typing on a QWERTY keyboard to Japanese (and, in the Chinese market, Chinese {traditional or Big-5]). MS has totally failed to come up with an acceptable system after years of effort, yet the local companies such as Just Systems (ATOK, et al) have no problem coming up with sophisticated predictive conversion systems whilst Microsoft blunders around with what it THINKS these markets need. MS will struggle in China because it is a US company attempting to place a Chinese veneer over its operations. Other US companies do vastly better operating overseas. Similarly, overseas companies do much better operating in the US (every Japanese company you can think of, for example).

      As a sensible publishing solution, MS is handicapped by having project leaders that hav no idea what good Japanese, Chinese and Taiwanese typography look like. They want a minimum-cost conversion of a US-centric package, that's what they pay for and that's what they get.

      This isn't an anti-MS diatribe, it's more of a frustrated comment on how MS operates in the world. I happen to know that their internal double-byte-enabled translation tools are outstanding, for example, yet they simply don't trust the quality their translators deliver them using this tool. It's like having an agressively arrogant version of Teletubbies as clients.

      • Actually the Microsoft IME (Input method env) is fairly sophisticated for Japanese. It is getting competitive with ATOK. I think ATOK's market share is probably in the toilet these days. Their software is better, but not so much better that it is worth paying for. Well maybe if you have to transcribe tons of text, but certainly not necessary for the average person. Just like browsers, MS will control the IME on its own platform.

        The reason MS is having trouble in China is not because their software is
  • Drivers (Score:5, Informative)

    by mcgroarty ( 633843 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ytraorgcm.nairb}> on Saturday August 16, 2003 @09:28AM (#6711914) Homepage
    Outside of China, there's an excellent benefit from China swarming all over Linux: This means there will be Linux support out of the gate for those strange, cheap, no-name peripherals you see in plain little boxes all over the computer stores. This means less reverse-engineering Windows drivers, and less hair pulling at trying to get specs from engineers all the way across the globe.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Will all this work with GPL'ed software be lost because the Chineese govenment maynot respect the GPL license? They have shown in the past they don't have much consideration for others copyright laws. I hope this isn't the case.
  • Ironic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mark_MF-WN ( 678030 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @09:51AM (#6712011)
    Ironic, isn't it? A communist nation is doing more to protect the free market (by fighting a monopoly) than any of the supposedly capitalistic nations.

    Seriously, when did we all hand our collective balls over to the monopolies and give up the whole idea of a "free market" and "encouraging competition"?
    • The PRC has been shifting to a more capitalist economy for years. They realize pure communism can't work, so they are shifting, if slowly. They have been on that path for years.
  • by nozpamming ( 664873 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @09:55AM (#6712022)
    I think microsoft is right on the ball with cheap software for thailand, but perhaps already too late. Let's see if china is just strong-arming for a similar deal...or really going for linux.

    Microsoft is facing a looming battle from local (asian) programmers that are used to linux. In the end it's always these kind of social choices that dictate if a business lives or dies. Combine government choices (germany, brazil, now china) with small clusters of companies like Red Hat and breeding schools like MIT and some Indian institutes and Microsoft is facing a real struggle with a strong product backed-up by dedicated companies, customers, workforce and policy.

    It usually takes ten years or so for these find of impacts to unfold...every signal right now points to a slow corruption of the windows OS.
  • by synergy3000 ( 637810 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @10:06AM (#6712064)
    While Microsoft has been on an anti-piracy tirade for some time, I think they tolerated it in China. Why you ask? To allow for the entrenchment of their products. Once China became hooked and beholden to Microsoft products and as they became more integrated with the world economy, China would be pressured to enforce copyright laws because they want others to do the same. But of course we find China not wanting to become beholden to anyone. So what do they start doing? Making their own CPUs which will soon start selling worldwide (IMO). They also move towards linux as their operating system thus locking Microsoft (and the US) out of their computer loop. Any encryption needs are not crippled by the US government. China can home grow them. Software needs are the same. While India is outsourcing support, programming and more for other countries, China is also developing their highly educated middle class as well in all things computers. Will probably be a few years before they start realizing the value in making and selling software on the cheap to the rest of the world. In the end it may be globalization that really undoes Microsoft and smacks them down to a more modest company.
  • by blastedtokyo ( 540215 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @10:09AM (#6712073)
    In China the reality is that software is considered free (as in beer). The lone exception is the government, who in its quest to join the WTO, look like a good citizen, etc. needs to look like they support international copyright standards to a reasonable degree. That's why they finally started buying licenses just a few years ago.

    With this move, they can stop paying Microsoft licenses and look like they're legit. Heck, they even look trendy by supporting open source. Then someone can just go to the any subway station and pick up for $1US a copy of Windows, a copy of VMWare and a copy of Office.

    Voila...They no longer need to pay MSFT. gain support from the open source community, and still run the software they're used to using.

  • From the article:

    ...upgraded to WPS Office2003 from an earlier version developed by domestic software maker Kingsoft Co,...

    Learn to read, people.
  • Screenshots! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheNarrator ( 200498 ) on Saturday August 16, 2003 @12:44PM (#6712743)
    Well I don't read chinese but my clicking instincts are pretty good. Here are some screenshots of the software. Looks just like Office. Very Impressive.. It looks like it runs on KDE.

    Screenshots [wps.com.cn]

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!