Microsoft has a range of options available for government, from its Azure offerings to various collaborations with the U.S. defense department. However, the Washington-based firm also co-operates outwards, with foreign governments.
Most recently, Microsoft has partnered with CETC to create a custom Windows 10 image for Chinese government and infrastructure. The move comes after the country denied internal procurement of the OS following Edward Snowden's leaks.
“We have already developed the first version of the Windows 10 government secure system. It has been tested by three large enterprise customers,” said Alain Crozier, CEO of Microsoft Greater China to China Daily.
Those familiar with the matter say the OS is intended for state-run enterprises and local government, with a few advantages over traditional builds. Importantly, the image incorporates tools and settings widely available to government to create a more bespoke deployment.
The project comes from a collaboration between Microsoft and CETC than began in 2015. Both have joined under the banner of C&M Information Technologies to provide the version. The two took feedback from clients, incorporating government approved anti-virus and other Chinese capabilities.
The hope is to open up Windows 10 to the Chinese market again, and experts believe it will work. Speaking to China Daily, CEO of cctime.com Xiang Ligang said:
“China's commercial PC market (computers used by corporates rather than individual consumers) is expected to revive growth this year. Once the tailor-made system is adopted by government agencies, private enterprises are highly likely to follow suit.”
However, it's worth noting the venture is not part of a China-specific program. Rather, it's part of a wider effort to serve the specific needs of government infrastructure across the world. It's something Microsoft has been doing for years, and will likely continue to.
C&M Information Technologies is the exclusive licensor for the OS to government and state infrastructure, with testing complete by three major enterprises. While Microsoft maintains the rights of the base OS, the move could prove lucrative for both firms.