5 April 2004 The governments of China, Japan and South Korea are to jointly promote the development of a Linux-based operating system in a bid to reign in the dominance of Microsoft’s Windows platform in the region.
Linux and other open-source applications are regarded as a means of restricting Microsoft’s growing control of the software market, which is seen as hindering local innovation. The Asian governments will help private companies to design and use alternative operating systems, as well as advocating the use of Linux in the public sector.
All three governments will devote funding to the venture, as well as sharing research and establishing common standards to ensure a truly collaborative effort.
As well as being seen as a way to deal with Microsoft’s monopoly, concerns about the vulnerability of Windows to viruses have also pushed the open source movement forward in Asia — despite recent research suggesting that Linux is no more secure than Windows.
A draft memorandum drawn up by Chinese officials stated: “The three countries all feel that monopoly is not conducive to the rapid and healthy development of the software industry and that excessive monopoly brings hidden threats to security.”
Although several commercial distributions of Linux are already freely available in Asia, they are primarily developed for Western markets.
Officials in Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul — who head up Asia’s most developed economies — believe that they can challenge Microsoft’s dominance more effectively by tailoring an open-source operating system to their own region.
As such, it is thought that the agreement will not be limited to these three countries although no other nation has yet shown an interest in joining.