Lenovo denies claims it chose Windows over Linux in second row over technology

Lenovo’s rebuttal comes after it was accused of failing to back Chinese telecoms company Huawei in setting global standards for fifth generation (5G) mobile communications technology, which it also denied

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 2:56pm

Lenovo Group has angrily denied claims it chose the popular Microsoft Windows system over a domestically-produced Linux operating system (OS) in a recent government procurement programme.

The company branded the allegations as “slander” in a statement that follows an internet storm in China in recent weeks over the company’s decisions on domestic versus overseas technology. 

China’s largest personal computer (PC) maker insisted it had suggested using a domestically-produced Linux OS for both desktop and notebook PCs in a recent PC procurement meeting for suppliers organised by the Central Government Procurement Center, according to the company statement on Tuesday. 

Lenovo’s preference solely for a domestically-produced Linux OS differed from the government body’s suggestion that both a Linux OS and Windows be installed on the PCs being procured, it said, adding that its recommendation was submitted to higher authorities for approval. 

The rebuttal from Lenovo comes on the heels of another “domestic versus global row” involving the company, after it was accused of failing to back Chinese telecoms company Huawei in setting global standards for fifth generation (5G) mobile communications technology.

Although Lenovo did initially vote for a technology led by US firm Qualcomm when a Huawei alternative was available, the vote in question was only for part of one standard, and it ultimately voted for Huawei’s Polar Code, which won the group vote in a third and final meeting in November 2016, founder Liu Chuanzhi said in a post on the company’s WeChat channel last week.

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The storm over operating systems began after, a Shanghai-based online news and comments aggregator, said in a report on May 21 that Lenovo had “clearly stated its opposition and voted against the Chinese Linux OS” during the government procurement meeting on May 16, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

Four companies – Lenovo, the US brand HP and two Taiwanese brands Acer and Asus – voted against the Chinese OS while three companies – the two Chinese brands Tsinghua Tongfang and Haier, and US brand Dell – were in favour of Linux, according to the Guancha report.

Lenovo categorically denied this version of events on Tuesday.

“Lenovo has always supported the development of domestic operating systems in the past, present and future. The rumours circulating on the internet that Lenovo does not support domestically-produced OS are out of context and constitute a slander,” said Lenovo in the statement, adding that it was investigating the legal implications of the claims as well as urging internet users not to spread false messages.

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Founder Liu Chuanzhi said in the joint May 16 WeChat posting with Lenovo Group Chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing and Lenovo Holdings Chairman Zhu Linan that it was a “shock” to learn that the company had been accused of “selling out the country” and that its reputation had been severely tarnished as a result.

“During the entire voting process (for the 5G technology), Lenovo Group representatives followed principles to safeguard the interests of the company, as well as an even higher principle, which was to protect the interests of the country and the development of the industry,” Liu said in the statement.

Liu said he had spoken to Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei, who indicated that Lenovo had done nothing wrong in the 5G standard voting process and thanked Lenovo for its support of Huawei.

“We all agree that Chinese companies should be united and cannot be provoked by outsiders,” said Liu.