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Baidu, Microsoft working on way to upgrade millions of China's XP PCs to Windows 10

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 28, 2015
'We are working with Microsoft to find a solution,' according to translation of Baidu website.

Baidu Windows 10
Credit: Baidu

China's Baidu search engine last Wednesday said that it's working with Microsoft on a way to upgrade the country's massive number of aged Windows XP PCs to Windows 10.

In a short Q&A posted on a page devoted to Windows 10 -- part of the deal Microsoft announced Wednesday to promote the new OS in China -- Baidu noted that Windows XP machines could not currently upgrade to Windows 10.

But the answer Baidu posted sure made it sound like it and Microsoft are trying to figure out a way around the limitation.

"Currently Microsoft's official message is that temporarily can not support a direct upgrade to XP systems Windows 10," said Baidu's answer to a Can-I-upgrade-from-XP-to-10 question. (The English translation was acquired via Google Translate, which often results in a fractured result.)

A translation tool from Systran, a South Korean company, came up with something similar: "At present the Microsoft official information is, temporarily cannot support the XP system to promote to Windows directly 10."

The word temporarily in both translation was striking, hinting that the ineligibility of Windows XP is not permanent. In fact, the next sentence in Baidu's response to the canned question spelled that out.

"We are working with Microsoft to seek negotiated solutions," Google Translate spit out.

"We were consulting with Microsoft together seek for the solution," echoed Systran.

"We are working with Microsoft to find a solution," added another machine translation tool from SDL, a U.K.-based firm.

What that solution might be is unclear. But the reason behind the effort is all about numbers.

Windows XP, which exited support in April 2014, still has a hold on a large portion of the Chinese PC market. According to Baidu, which tracks the operating systems powering devices that reach its search engine, 38% of the systems that accessed its site last month ran Windows XP. The 2001 operating system was second only to Windows 7, whose share was pegged at 49.2% by Baidu, and more than six times that of 2012's Windows 8, which boasted just 5.6%.

With 600 million active users -- a figure Microsoft quoted -- Baidu's 38% figure for Windows XP would represent 228 million PCs. That's assuming page views, the method Baidu uses to track operating system shares, were distributed evenly among machines.

Other sources show a large XP population in China, too. For August, U.S. metrics vendor Net Applications pegged Windows XP with a 20.9% user share -- a measurement based on unique visitors to several tens of thousands of websites, and so more analogous to devices than Baidu's online activity via visits -- and Windows 7 with 64.3%. Net Applications had Windows 10 at a stronger-than-Baidu 4.1%.

 

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