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China's replacement for Windows is an XP ripoff

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China has been trying to move away from relying on Microsoft's Windows software for its government, enterprise, and education industries. The Chinese government originally partnered with Ubuntu maker Canonical back in 2013 to create an alternative to Windows, codenamed Kylin. While that initial effort didn't really take off, a new Linux-based operating system dubbed NeoKylin is quickly becoming one of the most popular alternatives to Windows in China.

Quartz has taken a closer look at NeoKylin, and it's clear it's simply a Windows XP ripoff. Built by Shanghai's China Standard Software, NeoKylin includes a Start menu with a skin that looks like the Media Center version of Microsoft's famous Window XP theme. It's shamelessly identical, even down to references to My Computer, My Documents, Control Panel, and even a Recycle Bin. NeoKylin also includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint alternatives that look identical to Microsoft's counterparts, and are reportedly based on an old modified version of OpenOffice.

Dell is selling PCs with NeoKylin in China

Dell is even selling PCs running the software in China, with more than 40 percent of its commercial PC sales shipping with NeoKylin. "The NeoKylin OS is available on Dell Latitude commercial laptops, Dell OptiPlex commercial desktops, and DellPrecision workstations," a Dell spokesperson told Quartz. It's not clear if Dell's machines run the same Windows XP skin, as there are alternative themes for the NeoKylin OS.

It's not surprising that a Chinese company has created a Windows XP alternative. The operating system is still hugely popular in China, with estimates last year suggesting that as many as 27 percent of all Windows machines in China are still running Windows XP. Microsoft was left "surprised" when the Chinese government announced its plans to ban Windows 8 usage following the end of support for Windows XP. Microsoft has continued to supply Windows 7 to the Chinese government.

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