China investing in Linux

The future – as seen by China, and invisible to India, from the . NYTimes:

The Chinese government plans to throw its financial weight behind Linux-based computer systems that could rival Microsoft Corp.’s Windows in one of the world’s fastest-growing technology markets, an official said on Wednesday.

China would build a domestic software industry around Linux — a cheaper software standard that can copied and modified freely — said Gou Zhongwen, a vice minister at the powerful Ministry of Information Industry.

“Linux is an opportunity for us to make a breakthrough in developing software,” he was quoted as saying on the ministry Web site “But the market cannot be developed on a large scale without government support.”

Chinese officials have said they preferred to use software with open source codes to ensure that software guarding sensitive state information and networks cannot be tampered with easily.

The government has been pushing the development of a homegrown software industry and a national standard for Linux to counter the dominance of Windows.

India should be leading the world in Linux, with the government at the forefront. It is an opportunity to shape one of the most important trends in software, and yet, we do nothing. Unlike software services, where the primary beneficiaries are the international companies which outsource the work to Indian companies (and thus reduce their costs), in this case, the big beneficiaries will be Indian companies, which can make use of an affordable computing platform to deploy greater technology across their enterprise. Hopefully, this will also lead to the emergence of Indian software product companies with a storng base locally, and who can then take their solutions to other emerging markets (China included).

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.