Linux software developer Thiz Technology has released the latest version of its operating system and office software, and announced that it had won a distribution licence from Beijing Software Industry Association. The company anticipates 50 per cent of this year's turnover will come from the mainland. The Growth Enterprise Market-listed company can now sell its products in China with a value-added tax of 3 per cent, down from a previous 17 per cent. Chairman Albert Li Sze-ting said the company would next month open an office in Shenzhen. In December it opened a Beijing office. us98 Thiz plans to invest US$250,000 and hire 20 to 30 people for the Shenzhen operation. us100 Earlier this month, it signed a HK$150 million contract to bundle its software with motherboards from Taiwan's EliteGroup Computer. Mr Li said another partnership with a Taiwanese motherboard maker would be announced in two months. Thiz was also in discussions with China's second-tier PC manufacturers such as Haier, Hisense, Hedy and Start to pre-install Thiz Linux Desktop operating system and the Thiz Office application suite in their machines. In December China's top four PC manufacturers Legend Holdings, TCL Computer Technology, Great Wall and Tsinghua Tongfeng signed up with Microsoft to pre-install Windows XP on their computers. Mr Li said that despite some hurdles, the market opportunity in China was huge. ''After China joined the World Trade Organisation, the Government ordered that all government departments had to use licensed software. Windows is apparently too expensive for them and it only has a licence period of three years.'' This year Thiz was approached by a number of state-owned enterprises asking for help in switching to Linux. Thiz Linux Desktop, priced at HK$188, supports the latest Chinese text formats and Hong Kong supplementary characters. Thiz Office, which costs HK$299, supports more fonts than the previous version and enhanced vertical Chinese layout. Thiz general manager Kevin Lau Hong-bun said its office applications were more than 90 per cent compatible with Windows. ''By comparison with Windows, Thiz applications are more stable,'' he said.