Microsoft is forming a joint-venture in China to tailor a version of its new Windows 10 computer operating system for use by the Chinese government.
“We’re announcing a new joint venture that will license, deploy, manage and optimize Windows 10 for China’s government agencies and certain state owned enterprises and provide ongoing support and services for these customers,” Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi said in an online post late Wednesday.
If the joint-venture succeeds, state-owned enterprises cleared to buy Windows 10 would include key infrastructure fields such as energy, telecommunications, and transportation, according to Mehdi.
The joint venture, tentatively called C&M Information Technologies, is being created in a partnership with state-owned China Electronics Technology Group and will be based in Beijing, Microsoft said.
The venture will need clearance from regulators. Windows 10 is not currently allowed on Chinese government computers.
Cyber defense and reliability will be among features that would be tailored to suit the Chinese government. Making it onto the list of approved vendors means agencies there could buy Windows 10, but would not be required to do so.
“It’s common for governments to look to specialty technology partner organizations to deploy technology at scale, and this venture signals the possibility for new opportunities for Windows 10 in the many government entities in China,” Mehdi said.
The venture is significant for Microsoft, which is keen to grow in the China market but has been vexed by software piracy, as well as a ban last year on the use of Windows 8 on government computers.
Microsoft boasted that hundreds of millions of computers in China are powered by Windows software, and that it has been encouraging upgrades to the latest version through partnerships with local technology titans Baidu, Tencent, Qihoo 360, and Lenovo.