Windows 8 banned by Chinese government

China has said that it will forbid the use of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system in new government computers.

Under the new measure, all desktops, laptops and tablet PCs bought by state organisations will have to feature operating systems other than Windows' current flagship OS.

The Central Government Procurement Center has issued the ban as part of a notice on improving the use of energy-saving products and shoring up the government's security.

It was not explained how the banning of Windows 8 affects the use of energy-saving products, or how it would improve security in Chinese governmental departments.

The news will be unwelcome for Microsoft, which has repeatedly failed to gain a strong foothold in the country. Former CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly once told employees in 2011 that, due to piracy in the country, Microsoft makes more money in Holland than in China.

In April, with the end-of-life date for the geriatric OS Windows XP approaching, the Chinese government opted to pay Microsoft for support rather than upgrade to newer systems. The cost of switching to Windows 8, according to Chinese officials, was the reason for their reluctance to migrate.

"Windows 8 is fairly expensive (around 888 yuan, or 84) and will increase government procurement costs," said Yan Xiaohong from China's National Copyright Administration.

The ban on Windows 8 arrives soon after the US indictment of five Chinese army officers for cyber-espionage. The US claimed that industry secrets had been stolen to further Chinese companies' interests. This then resulted in China suspending the China-US Cyber Working Group in retaliation.

Microsoft has not responded to a request for comment.