Microsoft announced today that Windows 10 China Government Edition is now available, offering the government there a way to control the encryption on its own devices.
“The Windows 10 China Government Edition is based on Windows 10 Enterprise Edition, which already includes many of the security, identity, deployment, and manageability features governments and enterprises need,” a new blog post from Terry Myerson reads. “The China Government Edition will use these manageability features to remove features that are not needed by Chinese government employees like OneDrive, to manage all telemetry and updates, and to enable the government to use its own encryption algorithms within its computer systems.”
That last bit was the real impetus behind this new Windows 10 product edition, Bloomberg’s Dina Bass reports.
“This version of Windows 10 lets the government use its own encryption on its computers,” she writes. “A joint venture in China manages all the system updates and telemetry so no data leaves China, Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Windows and Devices chief, said in an interview.”
“It’s quite appropriate for a sovereign country, within its own computer system and its own employees, to have its own encryption systems,” Mr. Myerson told Bloomberg, alluding to the suspicion this move will no doubt trigger. But I agree it makes sense: Basically, the changes that Microsoft made to Windows 10 ensure that the Chinese government has control of its own data at all times.
Windows 10 China Government Edition will be piloted by three Chinese governmental organizations—China Customs, the City of Shanghai (EITC), and a company called Westone Information Technology, which is state-owned—and Lenovo, which was curiously absent at Microsoft’s Windows 10 S announcement, will be one of the first partners to preinstall it on new PCs.
This is a big announcement for Microsoft because the Chinese government had previously refused to deploy Windows 8 or Windows 10, citing security concerns. Microsoft says that it worked with the government there for two years to arrive at a Windows 10 product edition that met their needs. But Windows 10 China Government Edition will not be made available elsewhere, it says.