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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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

Windows 8.1's second update may arrive in August

Microsoft just released the first major update for Windows 8.1 last week, but apparently the second could be right around the corner.

According to a report by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, her sources indicate the second major update for Windows 8.1 could come in August. The update is part of Microsoft’s increasing effort to speed up the release cycle for its flagship operating system, Foley says, which would be in line with previous leaks about a rapid release cadence.

It’s not clear if Windows 8.1’s second major update would include the revamped Start menu, though it seems highly likely. A recent rumor indicated the Start menu would return before the end of the year. What likely won’t be included, Foley says, is the ability to run Metro apps windowed on the desktop, which Microsoft also previewed at its Build 2014 conference this month.

Windowed Metro apps could arrive in time for Windows 9, which is still likely targeted for an early 2015 release. Beyond that, Foley claims Microsoft is still working toward releasing a unified Windows SKU that would run on both smartphones and small tablets. The new Windows SKU wouldn’t include a desktop, she states, and it “is unlikely to be Windows RT as we know it.” ARM-powered devices would likely be the SKU’s primary target.

The updates appear to be a way for Microsoft to better distinguish between PC and tablet users, which would go a long way toward easing some of the tension created by Windows 8’s interface quibbles. Users have long complained that Metro isn’t appealing for devices without touchscreens, while the desktop has remained a largely unnecessary aspect of Windows RT, as it has primarily been used a legacy mode for the ARM-powered operating system.

Source: ZDNet