Microsoft Windows has support for over 40 languages, and you can use your Apple iOS device in 22, but China has its eyes on having its very own operating system (OS) when it announced a partnership with Ubuntu this month. The Chinese government recently announced that they would partner with the open-source OS developer to create Ubuntu Kylin, an official operating system for China. The OS will be more than simply another version of Ubuntu with Chinese language packs installed, this will be a completely separate version of Ubuntu specifically designed and localised for the Chinese user. The makers, Canonical, go on to explain on their blog:
“Ubuntu Kylin goes beyond language localisation and includes features and applications that cater for the Chinese market. In the 13.04 release, Chinese input methods and Chinese calendars are supported, there is a new weather indicator, and users can quickly search across the most popular Chinese music services from the Dash.”
Future updates will include integration with maps, shopping services, online payment processing, flight tracking and photo editing. Canonical is also in talks with WPS, the most popular “Office”-style software in China, to develop system management tools that can be integrated with the new OS.
It is thought that this development comes as China wishes to decrease its reliance on Western software, which is typically closed source, and foster open source development as part of its five-year plan.
China is not the first nation to adopt its own operating system, with North Korea developing its own Red Star OS in 2002. The 2010 version is only offered in a Korean language edition, localised with North Korean terminology and spelling.
Historically, English has been the language of the Internet, with China in second place. However, combine this news with the fact that China has been on track to create the next-generation internet, and one might wonder if today’s students learning Chinese in schools really will be more prepared for the digital future than those who are monolingual.
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