Microsoft fights back, calls out China on its Windows 8 claims

Microsoft and China have had a stressful relationship recently as the two seem unable to see eye-to-eye over the Windows operating system. With China recently saying that Windows 8 should not be used there due to Microsoft’s connection with the US government, Microsoft is now fighting back and is using social media to combat these claims.

It all started with China wanting Microsoft to extend the support of Windows XP as that platform is used heavily in the country. But, the reason it is used so much is largely because of widespread piracy, and Microsoft has said that 9 out of 10 copies being used in that country have been acquired illegally. With Microsoft not backing down on dropping support for XP, China started tossing mud at Windows 8.

The country banned the use of the platform on government computers and made claims about backdoors and other allegations of collusion with the US government. While Microsoft knows that if any of this were true, it would do irreparable harm to its image and as of now, it has not been firmly established that the company has given the NSA or any other entity access through a ‘backdoor’ into its platforms.

Microsoft has taken to its Weibo account to combat China’s claims and posted the image that you see at the top of this post. The five points are translated and broken down below and you can see the full image here:

  1. Microsoft has never assisted any government in an attack of another government or clients.
  2. Microsoft has never provided any government the authority to directly visit our products or services.
  3. Microsoft has never provided any so-called "Backdoor" into its products or services.
  4. Microsoft has never provided the data or info of our clients to the U.S. Govt. or National Security Agency.
  5. Microsoft has never concealed any requests from any government for information about its clients.

These claims attack all of the key points China has made about Windows 8 and Microsoft’s alleged cooperation with the US government.

Microsoft clearly wants China to move to another platform besides Windows XP because so many of the PCs in China run illegal copies of the OS. If Microsoft is able to get these users to buy legitimate copies of new versions of Windows, it will significantly help the company’s bottom line.

But for now, Windows XP usage in China still remains high but seeing that the OS is no longer receiving support, it’s only a matter of time until these machines become vulnerable and are exploited by botnets or infected with ransomware. Once this occurs, these users will have no choice but to update their OS to a more modern platform.

Source: Neowin Forums and Weibo | Thanks for the tip Faikee!

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Given what Microsoft did to that blogger's emails I can completely understand the Chinese government's concern. For what it's worth I doubt they are using the new versions of Windows any differently to the old ones but I certainly wouldn't trust them with my data either.

Can't they just force block Microsoft's services if they don't want data out of the border ?

It's not like they're some democratic country who cares what their people say about them.

rluka said,
Can't they just force block Microsoft's services if they don't want data out of the border ?

It's not like they're some democratic country who cares what their people say about them.

Sure, but doing so would make the Windows store completely useless

"Microsoft has never provided the data or info of our clients to the U.S. Govt. or National Security Agency. "

So, who is lying here? Snowden? The US Govt? The PRC Govt? Microsoft?

Chinna should've move to linux which they can readily access its source code, modify it to their needs, and no longer need to pay for foreign companies.

Problem solved.

I think Microsoft will have to make a compromise here, give away Windows 8 Single Language (Chinese) for free. At least this will modernize Windows in China and will push up Windows 8 usage for a change. So, if you don't get them to upgrade on this release, you will get them on the next. Then again, you just have to look at the market as a lost cause in the first place. They just like buying software there.

Mr. Dee said,
I think Microsoft will have to make a compromise here, give away Windows 8 Single Language (Chinese) for free. At least this will modernize Windows in China and will push up Windows 8 usage for a change. So, if you don't get them to upgrade on this release, you will get them on the next. Then again, you just have to look at the market as a lost cause in the first place. They just like buying software there.

Or give the Chinese government access to Windows code to prove that it doesn't contain backdoors.

This is shameful behaviour from a government. How is one supposed to take China seriously as a modern trading partner, when it takes to the airwaves to falsely denigrate the newer OS to its citizens, simply because its sore that the hoards of pirated XP computers (with pirated Office) in China are no longer supported for free. ALL CREDIBILITY DESTROYED. If anything, China should be warning it's people against the threat of using 15 year old insecure software.
Funny that China is happy to take the money when it comes to manufacturing the hardware that runs Windows 8.
Have some dignity China. You are behaving worse than a school child. I wouldn't expect such petty behaviour from my 8 year old son.

Personally, I think MS need to take a harsher stance towards all those pirate copies.

For the most part, they can detect they're pirate copies. I say issue an update that completely disables all networking capability on them.

mildmanneredjanitor said,
This is shameful behaviour from a government. How is one supposed to take China seriously as a modern trading partner, when it takes to the airwaves to falsely denigrate the newer OS to its citizens, simply because its sore that the hoards of pirated XP computers (with pirated Office) in China are no longer supported for free. ALL CREDIBILITY DESTROYED. If anything, China should be warning it's people against the threat of using 15 year old insecure software.
Funny that China is happy to take the money when it comes to manufacturing the hardware that runs Windows 8.
Have some dignity China. You are behaving worse than a school child. I wouldn't expect such petty behaviour from my 8 year old son.

How is it any different to the US government's treatment of Huawei?

People USC have short memories because MS MADE cofee, the tools for albeit valid law enforcements that would copy encryption keys and other sensitive data from a USB you couldn't stop running without a special blocker program made by the community after it leaked.
Does windows have back doors? Who knows, but with how that program had full admin access regardless of your PC settings, I wouldn't be too surprised.

Hello,

Actually, COFEE was originally written by a Chinese policeman and was basically a script that ran various Microsoft Resource Kit and SysInternals programs. Microsoft ended up hiring him, and now the program is made available through various law enforcement agencies around the world (INTERPOL, NW3C, etc.).

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

I'm not typically a fan of MS products or their practices but I am behind them 100% here and kudos to MS for having the balls and leading

This goes to show the damage that NSA's invasions of privacy can do. Even if there's indeed no backdoor in Microsoft's software, there's now a good reason to think that it does. Would the U.S. government trust Chinese software if it knew the Chinese government was spying on its citizens via exploitation of undisclosed vulnerabilities and backdoors?

Andre S. said,
Would the U.S. government trust Chinese software if it knew the Chinese government was spying on its citizens via exploitation of undisclosed vulnerabilities and backdoors?

The US government doesn't trust Chinese software... because they know the Chinese government is spying via exploitation of undisclosed vulnerabilities and backdoors.

rfirth said,

The US government doesn't trust Chinese software... because they know the Chinese government is spying via exploitation of undisclosed vulnerabilities and backdoors.

Just like everyone "knows" that the NSA are doing exactly the same thing.

Andre S. said,
This goes to show the damage that NSA's invasions of privacy can do. Even if there's indeed no backdoor in Microsoft's software, there's now a good reason to think that it does. Would the U.S. government trust Chinese software if it knew the Chinese government was spying on its citizens via exploitation of undisclosed vulnerabilities and backdoors?

The whole NSA issue is about domestic spying, as in on their own citizens!

They ARE a spy agency, every country has one, their job and the whole point of them being is to spy on other countries! This is not new. We have MI5 (and James bond), the Russians have the ex KGB etc.

Can we all just get a grip on this situation once and for all, the problems were NSA spying on Americans in their own country. That used to be illegal until bills were passed by bush/obama using the tried and tested 9/11 mantra.

duddit2 said,

The whole NSA issue is about domestic spying, as in on their own citizens!

They ARE a spy agency, every country has one, their job and the whole point of them being is to spy on other countries! This is not new. We have MI5 (and James bond), the Russians have the ex KGB etc.

Can we all just get a grip on this situation once and for all, the problems were NSA spying on Americans in their own country. That used to be illegal until bills were passed by bush/obama using the tried and tested 9/11 mantra.

That's only one aspect of the NSA story but there are others such as the industrial scale spying on everyone who uses the internet, spying on allies and, more recently, modifying commercially sold network equipment to spy on businesses and individuals alike. The Chinese will be responding to each of these and the last one has a direct impact on decisions about which American technology they buy.

jakem1 said,

That's only one aspect of the NSA story but there are others such as the industrial scale spying on everyone who uses the internet, spying on allies and, more recently, modifying commercially sold network equipment to spy on businesses and individuals alike. The Chinese will be responding to each of these and the last one has a direct impact on decisions about which American technology they buy.

Of course, but my point was about the overall attitude to the Snowden leaks by people in general, they seem incapable of separating the actual and legal operations of the NSA with the illegal (or morally wrong) operations of the NSA.

I mean the main difference with the NS and other countries spy agencies is they were caught doing it (via the leaks), the naivety involved with thinking that no other countries do this is staggering.

I'm not a supporter of what they do or have done btw, I'm very pro privacy but I am able to hold opinions that I don't necessarily agree with on a moral standpoint based on the fact that they are real, and its a reality that spy agencies exist to spy on other countries/gather intelligence - the way they do this is usually morally wrong but they still do it, all of them!

Some say...that they have a fixation with XP, and that is has gotten so bad, it is the most pirated OS in the history of mankind, all we know is, they're the Chinese.

But in all seriousness...

At least replace XP with CHROME OS, or something... else

AnotherITguy said,
Some say...that they have a fixation with XP, and that is has gotten so bad, it is the most pirated OS in the history of mankind, all we know is, they're the Chinese.

But in all seriousness...

At least replace XP with CHROME OS, or something... else

chrome os lol... i think they want their computers to be capable doing some work too

Ha, ha. Good one. Have you read the Google terms of service? Google think your data is their data!..
"When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide licence to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights that you grant in this licence are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This licence continues even if you stop using our Services."

Doesn't China know that if there is a backdoor for the NSA in 8, there will be a backdoor in 7, Vista, XP, 2000 etc as well?

Snowden has exposed this now, but it has been going on for a loooong time.

Last I heard, Snowden said the USDA secretly put microphones inside chicken so that the NSA would be able to listen to everything from inside your intestines after you eat it and only a doctor could remove it by surgery.

james.faction said,
Doesn't China know that if there is a backdoor for the NSA in 8, there will be a backdoor in 7, Vista, XP, 2000 etc as well?

Snowden has exposed this now, but it has been going on for a loooong time.


I am not aware of any NSA documentation leaked by Snowden that proves that the agency has secret access (or a backdoor) to Windows. While the absence of such a discovery doesn't prove that a backdoor isn't possible, it suggests that one has not been found because one does not exist.

james.faction said,
Doesn't China know that if there is a backdoor for the NSA in 8, there will be a backdoor in 7, Vista, XP, 2000 etc as well?

Snowden has exposed this now, but it has been going on for a loooong time.

makes me wonder what's hidden in Samsung's code/chips

Enron said,
Last I heard, Snowden said the USDA secretly put microphones inside chicken so that the NSA would be able to listen to everything from inside your intestines after you eat it and only a doctor could remove it by surgery.

Ban the chickens man!

Enron said,
Last I heard, Snowden said the USDA secretly put microphones inside chicken so that the NSA would be able to listen to everything from inside your intestines after you eat it and only a doctor could remove it by surgery.

Chick Fil A = NSA

Because Faux News told you that, right Buford? LMAO. Students all over the world are taking classes teaching the Snowden revelations in sections they are so great. The Congress just voted to cut off funding to NSA for exactly the spying Snowden reveals. But Buford in the Barcolounger thinks the issue is still Bengahzi. Pathetic.

Ian William said,

I am not aware of any NSA documentation leaked by Snowden that proves that the agency has secret access (or a backdoor) to Windows. While the absence of such a discovery doesn't prove that a backdoor isn't possible, it suggests that one has not been found because one does not exist.

Totally. My point wasn't that there is a backdoor in Windows at all.

My point was that it doesn't make sense that there would only be a backdoor in the most recent version of Windows. If there is a backdoor at all, it would make sense that it would be in any or all versions of Windows going back to XP, or even earlier.

Even more, ANY security update or service pack could potentially be used to open a backdoor for the NSA. So sticking with XP because of paranoia about this sort of thing is laughably stupid.

China needs to upgrade to something. If not Windows 7 or 8, at least get some newer Linux. XP is so outdated.

Enron said,
China needs to upgrade to something. If not Windows 7 or 8, at least get some newer Linux. XP is so outdated.

Agreed! They are big, they are rich. Why don't they build their own OS? Something on the BSD or the Linux kernel or whatever; but build something that the government can use, for crying out loud.

True, piracy is never a concern because the win7 loader is so easy, simple and effective, there are actually very few individual users are using XP. The remaining 20%+ of XP's are corps and governments etc because it is a major pain to migrate OS's.

FaiKee said,
True, piracy is never a concern because the win7 loader is so easy, simple and effective, there are actually very few individual users are using XP. The remaining 20%+ of XP's are corps and governments etc because it is a major pain to migrate OS's.

it seems win8 is much more difficult to pirate than previous versions. However, it still can be done with a lot of effort.

Gergel7077 said,
it seems win8 is much more difficult to pirate than previous versions. However, it still can be done with a lot of effort.

From a technical perspective perhaps, but for the "end user" it takes all of 3 seconds.

You can pirate Windows 8, yes, but the problem is Windows 8 becomes extremely limited because you cannot add a valid license and Microsoft Account to Win8 which renders all of the connectivity elements (social, mail, personalization, etc) useless. You get a very dry version of Windows. What's the point then? You can't add much to the OS. Microsoft bring up the pirated fact because XP is wildly pirated in China. What's the point of supporting an OS that has only 10% of its licenses in China being legitimate? It's fiscally stupid and only drains resources from Microsoft without equal compensation for their efforts to support a dead OS.

They're right for ceasing support and China is just being overly frugal.

Upgrade to 7 if 8 is really not what you want, otherwise China can quit their complaining.

SchroederRock said,
You can pirate Windows 8, yes, but the problem is Windows 8 becomes extremely limited because you cannot add a valid license and Microsoft Account to Win8 which renders all of the connectivity elements (social, mail, personalization, etc) useless.

Not that I use it myself (mine are legal thanks), but I know for a fact that that's untrue, got a neighbor who's running it that way. Doesn't stop her from using a Microsoft account, customizing it any way she likes, etc etc, works exactly the same way. But the rest, yea, it's just bluster, didn't exactly go out of their way to get legal after ~14 years, suddenly it's an issue?

And just how many of Microsoft's public services *require* Windows?

Other than Azure, practically none. (And even Azure supports non-MIcrosoft OSes; remember, Azure IS the service backbone behind iTunes - an Apple product, if not THE Apple product that brings in the most revenue).

Secondly, consider Outlook.com (one of the largest no-cost mail services) - like all other public mail services, you don't need Windows for that. (I personally have used it with almost every OS under the moon.) There are MANY ways to get a Microsoft account usable with any of their OSes (and even non-Microsoft OSes) - and you don't need a Microsoft account to use ANY OS - even Windows 8.1 update 1. Go to the Windows forum here on Neowin - several methods are available to create local accounts. Besides, how can you - or Microsoft - or anyone, for that matter - know whether the OS you are posting from is legally-licensed or not? (Any operating system that *leaky* by default CANNOT pass the Common Criteria Gauntlet - which is a requirement for an OS to be usable by most developed nations on their PCs. That gauntlet wasn't developed by either Microsoft OR the United States - it was developed by ECMA - a European standardization organization with ties to the EU government. Common Criteria is TOUGHER than the old NSA C2 standard - which is the standard of the United States government for ITS PC OSes. Can anyone name ONE Linux distribution that has - as available to the public - gotten through the Common Criteria gauntlet? I can't - and none has. Not even any of the 'buntus - or any version of Fedora or non-commercial Red Hat Linux. Only three public operating systems in terms of wide distribution - Windows (7 and later), OS X (Mountain Lion and later) and Oracle Solaris (10 and later) have gotten through Common Criteria unscathed. Of those three, only Oracle's Solaris is free (though the licensing terms are considered "burdensome" within FOSS).

The immediate issue is that "ole debbil nationalism" - note that NONE of the three OSes are even of Asian origin. Worse, all three are firmly rooted in the United States - which is VERY much the biggest economic adversary of a nascent "China Incorporated". The PRC - like it or not - has a reputation - and not just within the US - of being "knockoff central"; said reputation USED to be associated with ALL of Asia - especially Taiwan (the ROC) and South Korea. However, since then, it has devolved to that of the PRC alone. Not exactly soothing for a country seeking to leave that rep behind.

"But for now, Windows XP usage in China still remains high but seeing that the OS is no longer receiving support, it's only a matter of time until these machines become vulnerable and are exploited by botnets or infected with ransomware."

... I think it's too late for that.

The funny thing is, they're clinging to a less secure OS over concerns about security. Also, I'm sure if Microsoft wanted to, they could also lace a backdoor in XP at any given time. It wouldn't be too hard to do. All this fuss over nothing, really.

Edited by Dot Matrix, Jun 6 2014, 1:38am :

What makes you think there isn't a backdoor in XP already? China's being extremely naive if they think there would be one in 8 but not in XP.

Either that or (more likely) they are grasping at straws to come up with any excuse not to upgrade.

On the contrary, they're probably keeping XP to take advantage of it themselves. Imagine a botnet consisting of an entire country, and you can get away with it because it's your country. The largest country in the world at that.

Don't forget the fact that if you want to censor your entire country, you can block any workarounds if you can control the computers yourself.

Pluto is a Planet said,
On the contrary, they're probably keeping XP to take advantage of it themselves. Imagine a botnet consisting of an entire country, and you can get away with it because it's your country. The largest country in the world at that.

Don't forget the fact that if you want to censor your entire country, you can block any workarounds if you can control the computers yourself.

Why does China need to keep a botnet against its own users, they already got lots of people who love working for the peoples republic. Probably bcause newer hardware may have flaws that we r unaware of.


Edit: nvm came to reason myself that they could poss use these computers against us in cyber warfare but u would think micro would have something to shut up their own system


Edit 2: omg its gonna be 'Chinet' ahhhhhh

The funny thing is that you think that moving to Windows 8 is more secure!?! In fact, it's even more efficient at forwarding relevant info to the NSA without your knowledge. I'm sure that China could easily develop it's own version of Linux that doesn't have any NSA code and is sufficiently user friendly to be used in government offices.