China Still Working On Its Own Operating System

The Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday that China's own operating system, COS (China Operating System), may launch in October. News of the OS arrives by way of Ni Guangnan of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who recently spoke with the People's Post and Telecommunications News trade paper about the upcoming platform.

According to the report, Guangnan is currently leading an alliance that was established back in March 2014 to develop an operating system. The platform is expected to dominate desktops first in one to two years' time, followed by mobile devices such as smartphones within three to five years. However, the project is experiencing issues such as research funding and a lack of developer focus.

"China has more than a dozen mobile OS developers with no independent intellectual property rights because their research is based on Android," said Guangnan. "Our key to success lies in an environment that can help us compete with Google, Apple and Microsoft."

The Chinese government banned the use of Windows 8 earlier this year. The government seemingly doesn't want to face another End of Support scenario as it's seen with Windows XP, which is widely used in China. (Support for Windows XP ended in April 2014.)

China's move away from the Windows platform may also stem from the growing hacking suspicions between the United States and China, which include information provided by Edward Snowden that indicated that U.S-based software and hardware include "backdoor" surveillance tools.

Guangnan told the trade paper that the ban of Windows 8 on government computers and Windows XP's retirement has allowed domestic OS developers to flourish. However, the project really needs to be led by the government.

News of COS surfaced back in January, revealing that the platform is based on Linux. At the time, the OS was similar to Android and running on multiple devices such as set-top boxes, smartphones, PCs and tablets. Shanghai Liantong was also named as part of the COS alliance.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • christinebcw
    I can't wait. Just imagine built-in "phone home" technology to dial up China's central gov't instead of Ballmer's retirement fund account? Yes, indeed, that will be soooo much more secure! I'm sure it will "dominate" in a few years once it's required by Chinese law, too.
  • cocosoy
    It's not like anyone outside of China will use it anyway. Don't really care.
  • bmwman91
    This is all very interesting. Love it or hate it, MS has been in the OS game for decades and has tremendous experience with building a stable, secure OS. Even so, it does still have vulnerabilities that are constantly being discovered and corrected. If China is super worried about cyber-espionage and security, they seem to be taking an interesting route by building their own OS, which is an area that they have limited experience compared to a big player like MS. I wonder if they realize how open they might be leaving themselves to attacks in doing so.
  • christinebcw
    BMW, they may not delude themselves into some 'total security' brainset at first, but eventually this might happen.

    Just imagine you're part of that OS team.

    This is a land where milk-disease errors have resulted in death sentences. Executions. This is where architects and engineers who have misled gov't inspectors over earthquake safety features have been sentenced to death and executed. These were show-trials, too - not just to punish The Wrong but to hang the carcass on a fencepost and say, "Any other scammers, beware." Dam-builders. And all those gov't inspectors who were implicated in bribery schemes.

    So, you're programming this OS. You say it's secure. And when it's hacked - ?

    But along with the OS, it's going to be application development, too. COS-Office. COS-IE. COS-PhotoShop. COS-Solitaire (er, Mahjong). But it looks like Apps Development will be sprouting from the wings of Android.

    I just think "Head of COS Development" might be a lifetime position. Er, that is, as long as you live.
  • gm0n3y
    Given that Chinese software is generally terrible and the lack of quality on communist state projects (and everything else in China) I really doubt that this is going to be even half decent for a long time. Unless they mandate use from their own citizens there is little hope that this will take off. I mean big brother is already watching, but why make it even easier for them?
  • derekullo
    User: Hello China OS.
    China OS: PROCEED
    User: I would like to open Microsoft Word.
    User: I would like to thank my grandfather for the gun he bought me.
    User: You misunderstand, the gun is a child's toy.
    User: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500
    China OS: ... ... ... ... ... EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE
  • zfreak280
    I can see it now. A few misguided US citizens will use this software in their homes. After several weeks of use, their computer will be locked out and the boot screen will read, "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US!"
  • gear999
    COS? Reminds me of ctOS. How odd...
  • atminside
    So basically China's govt has acquired enough technology and software expertise through......various means and now wants to eliminate any foreign competition that will hinder adoption of their so called "spy-free" OS to their general public. I doubt there is any truth to what China says about MS spying on them. This is purely to drive away competition by using the disguise of nationalism and politics.
  • christinebcw
    Well, I can't blame anyone, much less a gov't, for not wanting to phone-home credentials to Steve Ballmer's brainchild OS and its bureaucraZy. I wish 'em well, frankly, best o' luck, etc.

    Eventually, OS's run into the wall of compensating for old hardware limits and allowing newer services based on the latest tech. While China isn't pleased with paying for XP support into the future, I don't know if that wouldn't be far, far cheaper than building and maintaining their own OS over that massive variety of hardware. They'll find out, though. Best o' luck.