Chinese government says Windows 8 upgrade too expensive, will stick with XP

Earlier this month, Windows XP finally reached the end of the road, as Microsoft formally ended its support for the ageing OS. But despite having had years to prepare, millions of individuals and organizations across the world are still running Windows XP PCs. 

Many of them can be found in China - StatCounter data from September 2013 revealed that over half of all the PCs in the country had XP on board, while some figures suggest that even now, this figure could be as high as 70%. In December, Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of China's National Copyright Administration, suggested that Microsoft should extend its April 8 support cut-off date, claiming that the decision to end support would result in more security threats and an increase in software piracy. 

Today, Yan appeared to rule out plans for the Chinese government to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. He told Sky News that the upgrade to Windows 8 would be "fairly expensive", and would result in greater costs for the public purse. An individual Windows 8 licence costs 888 CNY (around $142 USD / €103 EUR / £85 GBP) in China, but special promotions have seen this price drop as low as 299 CNY ($48 / €35 / £29). 

It seems that the cost for the Chinese government to upgrade to the latest Windows version is simply too high, which means that they'll be sticking with Windows XP for the foreseeable future. However, unlike some governments around the world - including those of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands - China won't be paying Microsoft to provide extended support for XP, despite Microsoft reducing its custom support pricing last week. 

Instead, according to Yan, Chinese security companies are currently working with the government to develop patches for its XP systems, in an effort to limit vulnerabilities and boost security. 

Source: Sky News

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The pricing of software only affects the chinese government as everything else is pirated for the people. So everyone can afford windows 8 when you have the internet!! Look at the cars, direct rip offs of western cars, phones tablets etc anything and everything... and they have a major advantage in copying stuff as pretty much everything electronic wise is built there

There is always Windows-9 to fix this and other problems with Windows-8. Is the large learning curve with the totally new UI/GUI of "native" Windows-8 is part of the expense?

If China really cared about security, they would crack down on all the malware and stuff coming out of China.

I don't care what country it is, its a problem when your government is too cheap to pay for either running current software or at least keeping old software up-to-date.

Today, Yan appeared to rule out plans for the Chinese government to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. He told Sky News that the upgrade to Windows 8 would be "fairly expensive", and would result in greater costs for the public purse. An individual Windows 8 licence costs 888 CNY (around $142 USD / €103 EUR / £85 GBP) in China, but special promotions have seen this price drop as low as 299 CNY ($48 / €35 / £29).

Or you could have an economy where workers actually have money to spend rather than living in slave like conditions - and then they might be able to afford to buy a legal copy of Windows and other software.

Btw, you're saying that upgrading Windows XP to Windows 8 is too expensive yet some how you have more than enough money to run a 1984 security apparatus along with labour camps without being concerned about the price tag. Anyone surprised this is yet another example of a government trying to absolve themselves of responsibility for having a crap IT policy when it comes to government departments?

They experimented with their own version of Linux and it bombed, so easier to just stick with the pirated OS and familiar apps they're already using.

I don't understand why Neowin post this news.
A "deputy director of China's National Copyright Administration" is not in charge of the IT purchase of Chinese government.

acrodex said,
I don't understand why Neowin post this news.
A "deputy director of China's National Copyright Administration" is not in charge of the IT purchase of Chinese government.

^this

Could someone enlighten me how these 'Chinese security companies' are developing security patches for windows? How exactly could they do that without access to the source code?

gawicks said,
Could someone enlighten me how these 'Chinese security companies' are developing security patches for windows? How exactly could they do that without access to the source code?

As I suggested, I think they'll "obtain" them, as opposed to developing them.

Forjo said,
They pirated XP. They'll pirate the patches. It's not like they won't end up on Bit Torrent anyway.

Great. I can just see some idiot post now explaining how to install pirated Chinese patches on your own XP box...

Dot Matrix said,

Great. I can just see some idiot post now explaining how to install pirated Chinese patches on your own XP box...


Except they won't be Chinese packages. They'll be the multi-language installers Microsoft releases to their extended support clients.

I think there was a mistranslation here... China didn't say it was going to stick with XP but that BUYING Windows 8 was too expensive, so they'll just pirate it as planned, instead.

"An individual Windows 8 licence costs 888 CNY (around $142 USD / €103 EUR / £85 GBP) in China, but special promotions have seen this price drop as low as 299 CNY ($48 / €35 / £29)."

I guess they've never heard of volume licensing.

timster said,

I guess they've never heard of volume licensing.

They are not as Smart as people make them out to be :s
They are only smart when it comes to ripping others off and selling cheap crap

Let's say you have Windows Xp, never upgraded it, have a firewall that is blocking all calls to it, and use Google Chrome which have its own security module and does not care about the OS

What else is left? It should be a 100% secure.

Cause Chrome never has security issues. And if they break through Chrome on XP, its an open playing field for the hackers. Versus with Windows 8(.1) where if the application lacks the security, there's a whole OS behind it to prevent further damage to you and your system.

Say what you will about the costs, but MS costs and licensing in general is expensive and keeps getting more and more expensive. Last year, MS changed how it licensed the enterprise and this is what is making lots think about other alternatives....like Google Docs.

Well it may be expensive because they will have to change all their hardware also. I believe they are still on Pentium 3 machines.

The main reason I couldn't make Linux my primary OS was because of my reliance on Office. Office Online (free) has changed that.

Remember Microsoft did increase the price, which I think was a mistake. If it were only $35 AUD (like OS X Snow Leopard was), I'd expect sales to increase 10x.

When did they increase the price? I only remember an initial promotion which was always going to be timed and restricted. Also, retail prices have no connection with what the government of a country like China can negotiate with Microsoft. They are penny pinching and want to stick to their pirated software, that's all.

For everyday corporate use (not counting server applications) Linux is next to useless and not even close to a viable option despite years of attempts to make it (appear) so.

benjimoola said,
XP is more useful than all the Linux OS to date.
Depends. WINE has come a long way, and will continue to get better. Only games are the real issue (but Steam OS will solve this).

I suppose it depends on what the organisation is doing some have migrated over some haven't, however what i meant by my comment is that i think the Chinese government has said before that it wants to have all systems migrated over to their own version of linux, i would assume that youre correct and they haven't been able to port over the productivity/works apps over to linux.

68k said,
Depends. WINE has come a long way, and will continue to get better. Only games are the real issue (but Steam OS will solve this).

You're just adding an additional layer of complexity, though, for what? If you still need to run Windows applications, the best solution is just to install Windows and be done with it.

REM2000 said,
im surprised they haven't used this situation to migrate over/restart the Chinese linux efforts.

I don't know whether "Linux is used by Communists" sounds like good PR.

Dot Matrix said,

You're just adding an additional layer of complexity, though, for what? If you still need to run Windows applications, the best solution is just to install Windows and be done with it.

Would you state that a modern flavor of Linux is more secure than XP (with free AV installed)? I don't think so.

I understand that seeing Windows 8.0 on every machine on every desk in China would be preferable (I guess in your case, replacing everything with Surfaces would be even more preferable :laugh:) however I can't see this becoming a reality, based on the article above. Linux is probably the next best choice (better than using a pirated version of XP), if cost is the main concern.

It is possible to tailor a version of Linux that is stripped-down, secure, user-friendly and 'general-consumer'-safe, although I wouldn't get the Chinese government to arrange this...

Edited by 68k, Apr 23 2014, 1:31pm :

IMO the newer versions of Windows are incredibly easy to pirate, easier in fact than XP was. I doubt that's the reason.

I'm not sure that telling everyone that you are sticking with an insecure operating system is the best way of doing things. They may as well change all their passwords to password and be done with it.

mastercoms said,
It's easier to pirate XP

it's actually easier to pirate Windows 7 and 8, but I'm sure the Chinese Gov already knows that.

timster said,

it's actually easier to pirate Windows 7 and 8, but I'm sure the Chinese Gov already knows that.

Yeah, but they really don't want to KMS activate all those machines again, do they?

mastercoms said,

Yeah, but they really don't want to KMS activate all those machines again, do they?

Most of the good KMS scripts will automatically re-activate every 180 days, so if they wanted to pirate Windows 8 easily they probably could. If the Chinese government really is paying for software it means they might actually be starting to respect I.P

regarding #2, the economic and monetary policies aren't even comparable. Well maybe slightly comparable, but the Chinese monetary system is about as well built as Chinese skyscraper.

ChuckFinley said,
How can a third party company develop security better than what Microsoft could? Crazy.

Its simple. They will have one of their "partner/front companies" who is paying for the patches give it to them and they will disseminate it. That part is easy and will cost them very little to nothing.

ChuckFinley said,
How can a third party company develop security better than what Microsoft could? Crazy.

Better? No, but I don't see any reason why it would be worse than the support that Microsoft is offering via its extended support scheme. In fact I imagine most of the patches will simply copy those put out by Microsoft.

Drewidian said,

Its simple. They will have one of their "partner/front companies" who is paying for the patches give it to them and they will disseminate it. That part is easy and will cost them very little to nothing.

If they have a front company, that means they are still paying for the patches, just funneling the money through another company. So, I don't really see the point.

LightEco said,

If they have a front company, that means they are still paying for the patches, just funneling the money through another company. So, I don't really see the point.

The point is that they won't really be paying Microsoft for the patches if they make a deal with a company which already was going to pay for them but wants... let's say.... access to a shipping port in Shanghai or Hong Kong. They'll likely give it to anyone in their country who wants it or even add it to their own Windows Update servers.

ChuckFinley said,
How can a third party company develop security better than what Microsoft could? Crazy.
Better? How about how can they even do it in the first place without access to the source? What, are they going to disassemble Windows and then create binary patches for the OS? Now that's just insane.

MikeChipshop said,
Which makes you wonder how little they're paying their own security experts.

Or even at all
The US will use this to their own advantage

Windows is more than 8 times more expensive in Russia and China than in USA. Would you pay $900 for Windows 8?

coth said,
Windows is more than 8 times more expensive in Russia and China than in USA. Would you pay $900 for Windows 8?

What!?

Windows 8 cost 120 USD in US, 988 CNY (~160 USD) in China and 5990 RUB (~170 USD) in Russia. Average salary in US is above 3600 USD. In China and Russia under 600 USD. So it's 7-8 times more expensive. Even with new special offer for China for 299 CNY (~48 USD) it would still cost way too much and 2,5 more expensive than in US.

coth said,
Windows is more than 8 times more expensive in Russia and China than in USA. Would you pay $900 for Windows 8?

Unfortunately people seem to either forget or not be quite aware of that fact. Even I come from Eastern Europe (Bulgaria) and remember how prohibitively expensive Windows, Office or any licensed software was when I was a kid. My dad would've had to spend a 1/4 of his salary to buy me a licensed copy of Windows. Hence why I learned Linux at an young age. Which brings me to my point - why is the Chinese government even using Windows if costs are so high for them? Doesn't make any sense unless most of their installations are pirated...

coth said,
Windows 8 cost 120 USD in US, 988 CNY (~160 USD) in China and 5990 RUB (~170 USD) in Russia

How is 170 vs 120 = 8x more?

Also, I don't think the Chinese government needs any sympathy when it comes to upgrading their systems. They are more than capable of paying the cost.

coth said,
Windows 8 cost 120 USD in US, 988 CNY (~160 USD) in China and 5990 RUB (~170 USD) in Russia. Average salary in US is above 3600 USD. In China and Russia under 600 USD. So it's 7-8 times more expensive. Even with new special offer for China for 299 CNY (~48 USD) it would still cost way too much and 2,5 more expensive than in US.

If you go down that road, not only Microsoft's products, but every single product manufactured outside of one's country is X times more expensive. This is especially noticeable for example in Eastern Europe where we're being treated with Western European prices even though our salaries are way, way lower in comparison to those living and working in Western Europe.

But there is a more fundamental issue here than the price of Microsoft's products, thus I'd argue that what you're saying is a bit irrelevant.

Andre S. said,
Couldn't you read the 2nd sentence of that post you quoted?

Thing is it's got little to do with the average national wage of China as it's the government systems we're talking about and China can quite easily afford the cost.

LightEco said,
How is 170 vs 120 = 8x more?

If you read the rest of the post, earning potential is a fraction of US so it's not a direct price comparison.

The poster said "Windows is more than 8 times more expensive in Russia and China than in USA. Would you pay $900 for Windows 8? "

Except its not. Do people make less on average in Russia or China? Absolutely. Does that have any effect on the sticker price of a product being 8X more? No. Is his statement false? Yes.

Just because the average cost of a person's wages is lower doesn't make the product more expensive. Does it make it harder to obtain? You bet, but the actual sticker price of the product is the same.

If that were true, the cost of anything would be relevant to a person's income. So even in the US, there would be $1000 versions of Windows and $50 versions. If you were unemployed, does the cost of Windows = infinity?

On top of all that, this article has nothing to do with Chinese workers upgrading their home computer. Its about the Chinese government (which I can assure you makes quite a nice salary each year).

coth said,
Windows is more than 8 times more expensive in Russia and China than in USA. Would you pay $900 for Windows 8?

Most of the world can't even be paid to use windows 8.

LightEco said,
Except its not. Do people make less on average in Russia or China? Absolutely. Does that have any effect on the sticker price of a product being 8X more? No. Is his statement false? Yes.

Approximate figures, but yea...

China, nearly 1 weeks pay for a copy of Windows.
UK, 1/3 of a weeks pay for Windows.
US, less than two tenths of a weeks wages.

It's a big investment in China, but it's a pittance in the USofA

Obry said,

Unfortunately people seem to either forget or not be quite aware of that fact. Even I come from Eastern Europe (Bulgaria) and remember how prohibitively expensive Windows, Office or any licensed software was when I was a kid. My dad would've had to spend a 1/4 of his salary to buy me a licensed copy of Windows. Hence why I learned Linux at an young age. Which brings me to my point - why is the Chinese government even using Windows if costs are so high for them? Doesn't make any sense unless most of their installations are pirated...

Can we then factor in food costs, housing costs, and transportation costs then? If one or all of those are lower than in the US then it reduces the cost of Windows impact then =). Because I have to pay more than the average income in Russia/China for my rent. And, almost as much in gas...

Order_66 said,

Most of the world can't even be paid to use windows 8.

Good one!! Kind of what I thought also. :)

Bummer that China has to try and upgrade all those pirated copies of Windows. :(

elenarie said,

If you go down that road, not only Microsoft's products, but every single product manufactured outside of one's country is X times more expensive. This is especially noticeable for example in Eastern Europe where we're being treated with Western European prices even though our salaries are way, way lower in comparison to those living and working in Western Europe.

But there is a more fundamental issue here than the price of Microsoft's products, thus I'd argue that what you're saying is a bit irrelevant.


Software is not a manufactured product. It's intellectual property which cost almost nothing to copy. Intellectual property - software, music, movies, books - it usually gets income adjusted. Yet most of it is very poorly adjusted. Some, like MS software is not adjusted at all.