China today said it will forbid the use of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system in new government computers to minimise security risks, as the software giant last month ended support to Windows XP.
All desktops, laptops and tablet PCs to be purchased by state organisations must have operating systems other than the Windows 8, according to an online statement issued by the Central Government Procurement Centre.
The move only targets computers used by government offices, while the personal computer market is expected to stay unaffected, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Microsoft last month ended providing support to the 13-year-old Windows XP, a major operating system for Chinese computer users. The software giant has advised users to upgrade their operating systems to Windows 8.1, or get a new PC if necessary.
The Chinese government said it is making efforts to solve possible security risks for government agencies after the Microsoft decision.
"Security problems could arise because of a lack of technical support after Microsoft stopped providing services, making computers with XP vulnerable to hackers," Yan Xiaohong, National Copyright Administration deputy director said.
Windows 8 costs 888 yuan (USD 142) in China.
"Windows 8 is fairly expensive and will increase government procurement costs," he said, adding that relevant authorities are negotiating with Microsoft over the issue.
To help users continue using Windows 8, Chinese security providers have released specialised XP-protection products.
The move came soon after the US indictment of five Chinese military officers for alleged cyber-espionage of some American entities. The US alleged the officers indulged in cyber thefts to benefit Chinese state-owned companies.
In retaliation, China has also suspended the China-US Cyber Working Group.