In an apparent move to please Beijing, Microsoft will donate software and support to Government On-Line, a project jointly launched by China Telecom, China’s State Economic and Trade Commission (SETC) and 40 other government departments.
The initiative is aimed at improving the image and working efficiency of the government and co-sharing of information resources.
Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates indicated his company’s support for the project.
“The Internet is having an increasingly significant impact on our society, changing the way we work, learn, communicate and live,” he said. “Microsoft is committed to helping build the ‘digital nervous systems’ that will lead to our digital future. We will fortify cooperation with all parties, including the Chinese government, to accelerate the development of the information industry, with the government setting an example of leadership through this project.”
Microsoft will donate Windows NT Server, SQL Server 7.0 and Exchange to the project–software that will serve as the backbone for the project.
In addition, the company will provide technical support and consulting services to these ministries for the implementation of this project.
“Microsoft commits great attention and support to the Government On-Line project, which has strategic importance to the development of China’s information industry,” said Juliet Wu, general manager of Microsoft China Ltd.
“The donation we are making today represents our commitment to helping the government promote and implement this cross-century project,” added Wu.
However, the move by Microsoft was undoubtedly to ingratiate itself with the Chinese authorities who signed an agreement with the American software juggernaut during Gates’ visit to promote the use of authentic software and crackdown on copyright privacy
The SETC, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), and the Shenzen City Government all signed the deal with Microsoft.
In return, Microsoft will also co-produce an information technology center with the SETC and provide the PBOC and Shenzen with technical services to deal with the Y2K problem.
To Beijing, Microsoft is evidently very important to China’s desire to develop a strong technological base through the Internet and information technology industries.
There is some evidence to suggest that the Chinese Government has already moved towards cracking down on piracy.
Sources are reporting that in the last few months there have been more raids on companies in China where officials have targeted illegal copies of Microsoft software.
However, software piracy is occurring in epidemic proportions in China and Hong Kong.