China has banned the use of Microsoft’s latest operating system on government computers.
Beijing issued the restriction as part of a decree about the use of energy-saving products.
But official news agency Xinhua said security concerns related to foreign operating systems had led to the move.
Microsoft said it was surprised, but insisted it would continue to provide older versions of its software to the Chinese authorities.
Xinhua said Beijing had felt compelled to act after Microsoft ended security support for its Windows XP operating system, which is still widely used in China.
“The Chinese government obviously cannot ignore the risks of running OS without guaranteed technical support,” it reported.
“It has moved to avoid the awkwardness of being confronted with a similar situation again in future if it continues to purchase computers with foreign OS.”
A Microsoft spokesman said the government’s procurement department had posted a notification online barring Windows 8 from bidding for public sector deals.
The spokesman said: “We were surprised to learn about the reference to Windows 8 in this notice.
“Microsoft has been working proactively with the Central Government Procurement Centre and other government agencies through the evaluation process to ensure that our products and services meet all government procurement requirements.