Windows 7 to catch on fast, says Microsoft
Microsoft expects faster corporate adoption of its flagship Windows 7 computer operating system on the mainland this year, bolstered by Beijing's intensified campaign against illegal software users.
The world's largest software company also expects to drive Windows 7 sales on the mainland through its recently launched 'Real is really different' campaign, a nationwide consumer education initiative with 15 personal computer manufacturers including Lenovo Group, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Founder Technology and Haier.
'In China, we have sold three times as many licences in the first year of Windows 7's release compared with the first-year launch of any previous version of Windows,' said Adam Anger, Microsoft Greater China's client business group lead.
'We already have hundreds of large enterprises and thousands of small and medium-sized businesses in China that have started migrating to Windows 7,' he said.
According to market research firm IDC, more than 60 per cent of organisations on the mainland, Hong and Taiwan plan to introduce Microsoft's new Windows operating system into their operations within the next six months.
Prominent mainland companies that are now using Windows 7 include beer giant Tsingtao Brewery, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, residential property developer China Vanke, engineering group China Communications Construction, and Hangzhou-based internet conglomerate Alibaba, which runs e-commerce firms Alibaba.com and Taobao.
Since the software was commercially released in October 2009, Microsoft has sold more than 240 million Windows 7 licences worldwide.
Microsoft estimated that Windows 7 was installed in about 93 per cent of new personal computers sold as of September last year. Upgrading to the new operating system, however, remains a major effort for enterprises.
'For most business customers, a migration is not something that happens in a period of weeks or months,' IDC analyst Al Gillen said. 'The average [corporate] customer doing an operating system deployment in conjunction with a new PC deployment usually takes a couple of years to get through.'
That situation becomes more complex on the mainland, the world's second-largest personal computer market, where the use of pirated software remains rampant. An IDC study found the amount of unlicensed software used on the mainland in 2009 reached US$7.6 billion, a US$900 million increase over 2008.
Microsoft's official release of Windows 7 on the mainland was marred by the wide availability of pirated versions, priced at about 20 yuan (HK$24) each compared with 399 yuan for the cheapest edition of the original software, several weeks before its launch on October 22, 2009.
Simon Leung Lim-kin, the chairman and chief executive at Microsoft Greater China, said expectations are high after recent actions by the State Council, the mainland's chief administrative authority, to step up protection of intellectual property rights across the country.
Yan Xiaohong, the deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, announced on November 30 that the agency would conduct inspections in eight provinces and speed up investigation in 55 major copyright infringement cases.
In addition, the Ministry of Commerce announced that priority programmes early this year included strengthened intellectual property rights enforcement, implementing more severe penalties, and a greater crackdown on counterfeit software production and distribution.
Anger said: 'Both education and enforcement are key priorities for Microsoft to promote genuine software use in China. We work closely with government agencies to bring intellectual property rights violations to court.'
In November last year, Microsoft reached a settlement to close its landmark copyright infringement lawsuit against an internet caf?chain on the mainland.
Tonecan Network Communication, the biggest internet cafe operator in Dongguan city in Guangdong province, agreed to pay the software giant an undisclosed amount as compensation and committed to use genuine Microsoft software and take appropriate measures to protect its software assets.
In April last year, Microsoft won its first software copyright infringement case on the mainland against Shanghai-based Dazhong Insurance.
Companies and small businesses are expected to use Windows 7
This percentage of organisations on the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan plan to introduce the system, research says: 60%