BEIJING, April 9-- Microsoft on Tuesday stopped providing technical assistance for Windows XP, a major operating system for Chinese computer users, opening up opportunities for China's IT companies.
After April 8, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available and the company will stop providing security updates, according to the Microsoft website. Computers can still run XP but it will become more insecure and prone to viruses. The company advised users to upgrade to Windows 8.1 and get a new PC if necessary.
China has about 200 million XP users, 70 percent of the entire PC market, and the majority have no plans to switch, according to a Zhongguancun Online survey.
"Although I'd like to update the system, it's too expensive," said "Dalulu" online.
The price of Windows 8 is 988 yuan (159 U.S. dollars) but, like many, to run the system, he would need to buy a new computer.
To protect the 13-year-old operating system and help users like Dalulu continue to use it, Chinese security providers have released specialized XP-protection products.
Microsoft China, Tencent and Lenovo jointly launched a Windows XP user support plan last month for security and anti-virus services for China. A group of Chinese IT companies, including Kingsoft, Sogou, Knownsec, WooYun and Keen Team, have joined in the plan and will provide defense solutions for XP users until they upgrade their systems. The companies will keep "building a hedge" for a transition period expected to last two to three years or even longer, said Tencent's Ding Ke.
"I have installed the security software, but it remains to be seen whether it works or not," said Dalulu.
The security software can only intercept known viruses, including trojans, unlike the service packs provided by Microsoft that helped to stem flaws in a fundamental way.
The death of XP support may help development of domestic operating system. Ding Liping of the Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the government was already on the lookout for the country's own operating system, well before Microsoft announced the end of XP support, and several systems had been put forward, such as NFSARK designed by Beijing's NFS, and NeoKylin, by Shanghai's China Standard Software.
"Users are welcome to try these systems and give feedback to help improve the systems," Ding said.