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Microsoft dropping physical box sales of Windows 8 in China

Michael Kan | Oct. 24, 2012
Microsoft will not sell Windows 8 as a physical boxed product in China and instead will only distribute the OS through downloads and pre-installs on devices, in a move that could help the company drive consumers away from pirated copies of its products.

"All the other store owners came to me to get their copies of Windows 8," said the worker, who declined to give out his name. He estimates software pirates will have actual bootleg copies of Windows 8 ready likely in another two months.

In the run up to the Windows 8 launch, Microsoft on Monday held an event in Shanghai, promoting a wide range of devices, including tablets, laptops and desktops running the OS that are slated to come to China. The company did not speak about piracy issues.

"China is a big business opportunity for us" said Microsoft's Greater China region CEO Ralph Haupter in a speech. He pointed to how the country is becoming a major market for product sales. The country has already overtaken the U.S. to become the largest market for PC shipments, according to research firm IDC.

Despite the expected arrival of pirated copies of Windows 8 in China, some users in the country may decide to ignore the new OS given that it was designed for touchscreen devices, said Kitty Fok, an analyst with research firm IDC.

"If you decide to buy a touchscreen computer, it will probably come with a legal version of Windows 8," she said. "But if your computer doesn't have touch, and you want to experience Windows 8, you might find it's not as good as the other versions of Windows."

In the desktop OS market for July, Microsoft's Windows XP had a 73.7 percent market share in China, while Windows 7 has a 22.8 percent, according to data from analytics firm Net Applications.

 

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