Has China Developed a “Windows Killer?”

China has been hoping to develop its own marketable computer operating system (OS) for years, and now it seems as if they have one.

Already in use and providing government offices with an alternative to Windows, the Linux-based system is named NeoKylin OS, and it is an improved version of the original Kylin system first created over a decade ago.

The National University of Defense Technology—an institution administered by the country’s defense ministry—was behind the development beginning back in 2001. It was not until 2010, however, that the university partnered with China Standard Software Co., Ltd. (CS2C) to launch NeoKylin, primarily for use in the country’s national defense systems and other government agencies.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a recent investment deal with Dell Computers now has the OS preloaded on 42% of the Dell PCs shipped to China. While most all these units are sold to the government, more than a few are being bought by financial companies as well. Hewlett-Packard is said to be getting in on the action by selling PCs with this OS also.

As TechinAsia points out, the Chinese media reports on this operating system as being “home-grown” when in fact, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Since its initial development, Kylin has been based almost entirely on foreign open-source software coding for the operating systems, beginning with FreeBSD and soon after, Linux. Many prominent IT companies around the world have also made use of these systems over the years.

Concerning NeoKylin specifically, it was developed for the Chinese primarily by Canonical, a tech company based in the UK. This company has offices worldwide, including several in China. Praising these efforts and the latest release of the NeoKylin OS would probably be better described as collaboration, as the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology was also a key player here.

As for this OS competing with Windows, some wonder what may be in store in the near future, when looking at Dell’s sales figures now. The NeoKylin OS is designed very similarly to Windows, so there is the familiarity factor which makes for ease of use.

On the other hand, many in China (and also Southeast Asia for that matter) enjoy the familiarity and dirt cheap price of using bootlegged Windows on their computers. What would motivate the average person to use NeoKylin OS if it breaks out of the government/corporate sector and reaches the consumer market?