Tech war: China is doubling down on national operating systems to reduce reliance on Windows, MacOS from the US

China has created an open platform to accelerate the development of a local desktop operating system, in its latest effort to shed the country’s dependence on foreign systems such as Microsoft Windows and MacOS from Apple.

Kylinsoft, a subsidiary of state-owned China Electronics Corp, last week teamed up with more than 10 Chinese entities, including the National Industrial Information Security Development Research Center, to create a community of open-source code.

Called “openKylin”, it allows programmers to publish and share computer codes related to the Kylin operating system.

The effort comes amid growing tensions between the United States and China. The latter has tried to stimulate local production of key technologies ranging from semiconductors to software.

China’s quest for a competitive national operating system has been going on for decades, with some candidates already available on the market. Kylin was originally developed by People’s Liberation Army National Defense Technology University, which has been licensing Kylinsoft for commercial applications since 2014.

However, these attempts have yet to result in a Chinese system that can compete with Microsoft Windows, which dominates the market with an 85% share in mainland China.

Globally, Windows also remains the dominant desktop operating system with a market share of just under 74% in December. Apple’s macOS, which has become more widely used over the years, riding the popularity of iMacs and MacBooks, has a share of around 15%.

Linux-based operating systems, which include most Chinese systems, maintain a small but stable market share globally.

Early versions of Kylin include code from the Unix-like software FreeBSD, while later versions are Linux-based, according to a report by research and consulting firm EqualOcean.

As part of China’s efforts to reduce its reliance on Western technology, the country runs its own open-source platform Gitee to counter Microsoft’s better-known global site, GitHub.

China’s state broadcaster CCTV said on Thursday that openKylin will speed up the development of Chinese operating systems.

Kylinsoft currently offers three operating systems: V10, V4 and NeoKylin V7.0. Among them, the V10 has been configured to be compatible with the widest range of CPUs, including those from HiSilicon, Loongson, Sunway, Hygon and FeiTeng from Huawei Technologies Co. – South China Morning Post

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