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China builds a Windows replacement that looks like Windows XP

News site Quartz managed to obtain some hands-on time with the Linux-based OS this week. NeoKylin is one of many Chinese attempts to build software entirely in-house but, as with so many similar efforts, is very obviously inspired by existing Western products. Quartz writer Nikhil Sonnad’s demonstration of the OS can be watched on YouTube.
Built by China Standard Software in Shanghai, the entire interface is visually identical to Microsoft’s iconic Windows XP. The login screen is very similar while the desktop’s taskbar contains an obvious Windows XP-style green Start button.
The two-paned Start menu is also almost exactly the same with shortcuts to programs commanding the left side and a list of folders and system controls on the right. The desktop itself contains links to “My Documents”, “My Computer” and “Recycle Bin” — all infamous Windows XP terms.
Window titlebars and minimise, maximise and close controls appear to be direct rip-offs of Microsoft’s operating system. In general, iconography is almost identical to the visual elements of Windows XP.
A customised version of OpenOffice is also included. Styled to resemble Microsoft Office, “NeoShine” editions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel are featured in the suite which also uses document icons strikingly similar to Microsoft’s. There is even a copy of the Windows game Minesweeper.
Quartz writes that installing additional software is difficult and restrictive. Although the Linux yum package manager is included, most of the usual sources of software downloads are blocked and have to be manually enabled by editing system files. NeoKylin includes a selection of programs such as the Firefox web browser and GIMP image editor but others could prove hard to obtain for the average user.
However hypocritical it may seem, NeoKylin is intended to be a serious platform for Chinese computing. Although it is a blatant rip-off of the software the government wants to move away from, NeoKylin will be coming preinstalled on many new computers sold in China — including ones by PC manufacturer Dell.
NeoKylin will be offered on the company’s Latitude commercial laptops, OptiPlex desktops and DellPrecision workstations. It is likely that Dell will take advantage of the operating system’s skinning abilities to replace the Windows XP theme with something a little more modern.

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