Russia wants to stop relying on foreign software for government systems

Builiding (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is on Russia's radar when it comes to the planning of removing all reliance on foreign software for government systems. According to a report over on NBC News, The Kremlin is backing a plan to rid all offices and state-controlled companies of software developed in other countries. Microsoft is being targeted due to being one of the more prominent American brands in technology, alongside the likes of Apple.

From the report:

"The Russians are keenly aware that Microsoft products, like any software, can be used as weapons in cyber-warfare. A sensitive U.S. Homeland Security document obtained by NBC News confirms that a Microsoft Office attachment was used by Russian hackers to shut down the Ukraine electrical grid last year."

U.S. intelligence officials believe it will be difficult for Russia to outright ban Microsoft services and products due to how integrated the company is in government systems. That said, the Kremlin has been working to release software for Russian-based counterparts to be brought on-board. It's concerning to see how the division between the U.S. and Russia is widening to a point where Microsoft and other tech companies are potentially affected by attempts to remove as many ties between the two parties as possible.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Red Star OS for ya!
  • go russia.. they are right..
  • Aha, right. Why won't our government and especially our Beloved Magnificent Leader Mr Stalin Putin ride their precious asses in comfortable German cars, not in national ones like the 1st world countries' governments do? I'll tell you. "Want to make changes? Let's start from ourselves" - that is the thing they never say. But when it comes to making troubles for government common clerks' work - yes, sure, He makes some loud populist "improvements" thinking of no consequences. No, these stupid idiots cannot be right, they are wrong.
  • They can enjoy Linux.
  • I been using Linux alone since 2012 till now
  • Hence, my comment.
  • If they want to enjoy something they can enjoy anything they want, Linux, pens and papers, watching p#rno, constructing perpetuum mobile, learning Jedi Force, but they gotta work, and there come the lack of applications for Linux and other problems like wrong displaying of documents in open/libre office vs MSO. So they will need to "enjoy" handling all that after work for $500/month instead of enjoying their time with families. I know what I'm talking about, know how they have to work, do have live examples, seriously. And I'm quite familiar with Linux, got CentOS on one of my machines for learning and testing purposes. Even user-friendliness is still not the strongest side of nix.
  • So, which Linux distro is made in Russia?
  • Vihdovs 10 or Vihdovs 0.1 ?
  • Volga 0.1!
  • Good job Russia
  • Heil Putin
  • Wonder if they will use creative thought for their own brands? MICROSOFTSKI, Windowski, Windowski pree-VYEHT etc...
  • -ski? its like Poland, not Russian.    
  • Probably American. They don't know anything about Europe especially about east Europe.
    But to be honest I don't know that much about middle USA too
  • Poland is slavic too.
  • -ski is Polish, -sky is Ukrainian. Those are the only ones I know actual rules for. Russian though seems more complex, although it might also have something to do with the Soviet era purges of nobility, since the ski/sky ending was saved for those of noble birth with family coats of arms.
  • Maybe Microsoftov, windowsov and windows mobilov? (oh who am i kidding, nobody uses the Mobile :D )
  • Fcukin LoL! Better this way, Microsoftin, Windows Tin, Windows Defendin, Edge-in... Oh, dont forget Igor Parlov with his great 7-Zip!
  • German tried
  • This divide between the US and Russia is growing and it's getting scary. Russia has said they are at war with us, but no one in the US will listen. Russia has created an order where if it is given, all Russians abroad must return home immediately or risk never being allowed back into the country, even if they are studying abroad and have to leave school early. They have also had drills for citizens to shelter up during an extreme disaster (like a nuclear strike). I was surprised to see an article like this on a tech site because there are few news organizations that even cover the political problems between the US and Russia, but this is just another clue about how terrible the Russian / US relations are. Good to see more coverage on it!
  • Just start talking and do not listen to the media. We (Russian) acting in self-defense purposes, as The United States has been actively put pressure on us and our country (the missile defense system, for example). It seems that everyone wants war. Of course not! We do not want. I do not want.    
  • Vladimir every sane person in the west knows it's propaganda.. It is the US that kills people everywhere around the world in the name of "freedom and democracy" .. don't worry my friend Russia is not without allies in Europe.. :)
  • I'm not worried ))
    Just I hope that all these political slogans and the game will end. From all sides.
  • Agreed, everyone just needs to calm down. And obviously our countries keep doing what they think is best for their countries, but we all need to calm down, keep our noses out of each other's business, and start moving in a peaceful direction.
  • How much do you get paid for comments like this and all the nonsense about the poor country Russia and how the entire world is against it?
  • As a American who talks to people in Russia and Uses VK etc, and have studied them, I can confirm this. We can thank JFK for the stupid cold war and propaganda crap. 
  • Oh my god are you for real? What a bunch of nonsense. I guess your american media are feeding you very good. Russia never said it is at war with USA and the USA is the only aggressor here. Putin seems like he is the only guy trying to make sense and try to cooperate with USA but your government simply dont care. We saw the Clinton campaign and for everything it seems like it is russian fault. If anybody go to war and attack it will be USA and Clinton + Whitehouse.... american stay out and enjoy your american "dream" we dont need you as a world police. Serbia felt that in 99. and with clinton when your government destroy us to feel that even to this day. Just keep out of Europe and the rest of the world .
  • You do know that the US and Russia are already fighting a proxy war right?
  • Your ignorance of geopolitics is astounding. Neither country declared war on the other, the terrible American media you're criticizing has not said that. We are however  on other sides of a proxy war in multiple areas of the world. It's hilarious that you think Putin is at no fault and believe whatever he says, especially when they're the ones with a state run media. Also, I think most European NATO members will disagree with your assessment. The Baltic states do want our presence over there, espcially after Russia annexed part of a sovereign nation.
  • Crimea was not annexed, and is attached by election of the people.
    Russia does not need the Baltic countries of the Gulf. These countries through the creation of nationalist organizations, as well as the hostile policy of trying to attract the attention of the public, as well as to receive grants from the NATO countries.
  • I'm interested in how you view the war in Syria
  • Without AMERICA, you would not have MS. Without MS, you would not have WC. AMERICA is the genesis of most great things post WW2. What they didn't create, they made better.
  • Without Russia, there would be no America. Ironically, the Russian Empire is one of the first countries to recognize America as a new country on the world map.
  • No, silly. That was a political move against France, but you left that part out and it matters not in today's terms.
  • Without Russia we'd all be speaking German. America and the UK would have had a much longer fight and possibly different outcome without Russia during WW2.
  • No, not true either. It was AMERICA that solved the whole WW problem. AMERICA supplied most material to RUSSIA. RUSSIA only won because of pressure on two fronts for GERMANY, Hitler's blunder, and RUSSIA lost most of its land which concentrated their poorly trained soldiers into a smaller area to fight while GERMANY was spread thin. The RUSSIANS did this to Napoleon too - retreating inward, that is. Oh, don't forget the winter.
  • The US supplies for Russia were about 10% of Russia's consumptions. Think about it.
  • EUGENE: I like your avatar. Nonetheless, that 10% is what the RUSSIANS could not make happen. They were mission critical materials.
  • Truth be told, probably neither the US nor Russia would be able to stand against Germany alone there. Of course the US would be sitting safe across the Atlantic but the UK would be doomed
  • mr catfish .. 22 million dead russian troops vs 400000 dead Americans tells another story..
  • Whatever the numbers are: too many. Trouble is, when there is a lot of internal trouble in a state / a nation
    the likelyhood rasies that this state engages in an external conflict.
    This is "easier" than solving the internal problems. Insofar the current situation is fairly frickly.
    Russia is not doing well, the USA has huge internal frictions and there are a lot of tensions. This could lead to a direct conflict between Russia and the USA,
    and it will not be fun. Let's hope for the best. .  
  • We in India are friends of both. Peace unto all. Om shanti.
  • Thumbs up! Peace is utterly important, more than ever. And let's hope Pakistan behaves itself and does not go cracy. .  
  • Just like in Turkey, most of those scientists will for sure stay where they are and not come home.
      Russians want to have a good life as well.
    Don't think they are interested in direct military confrontation with the US. Russia is pushing the envelop as the US is currently very busy with itself (aka Republicans vs Democrats, Trump vs Clinton, lots of shootings, etc.). Should Russia actually really enter into a direct conflict with the USA,
    the Russian government would fairly quickly be overthrown by some internal forces (Oligarchs, old internal enemies etc) before the conflict is over. Financial interest always wins, in the US and in Russia as well.
  • Considering how often the US government weaponises those same software companies in the pursuit of its own interests (sometimes even against their own people, often against foreign governments), this isn't surprising. What's surprising is how long it's taken. Really, the US gov can choose -- making money on software exports or spying. Or at least it had a chance to choose, now no one will believe them if they say otherwise.
  • Like no other country does this. But whatever.
  • Well china had the easier solution; force MS to show the windows source to the state security office for auditing.
  • So lets bet, will they adopt LibreOffice/OpenOffice and some existing Linux disteo or will develop their own?
  • Last time I read about something like this, they were rolling with Samsung quality OS software based off of a Linux distro (ie, not all that great). Which is some of the reason why it takes so long to do any of it. Writing good OS software, even customizing oss, takes not so much talent as institutional knowledge and experience. That takes time to build up.
  • Most likely they will take a Linux distro and start building on it, same with office software.
  • Something like that. Either this or write everything from scratch. Anyway, we should expect truly low quality products from this
  • Easier said than done. Russia may save money for not paying license fees, but they will have to spend (a lot of) money to get things going.
    Way more than they will save on lincense fees. However, this money spend stays within the Russian boarders. The other thing is, that Russia needs technical talent to do the migration.
    So the question is, whether Russia can tap on internal resources to dirve their projects forward. Knowledgable experts probably will already have a good job with a private company
    or even are programmers who write software for foreign companies and get paid well. Russia may therefore be forced to pay competitive hourly wages
    or otherwise they may not find enough experts willing to get jobs done for the government
    and Russia might find itself in a situation where they have to outsource things to India and other places. .  
  • Today's haiku: A vote for dirty, Hillary Clinton is a, vote for World War 3. Namaste.
  • Is there even a Russian OS to use?
  • Not sure why.  Microsoft have proven time and time that they fight the government to maintain end user privacy.  And with Windows more secure than Linux these days any change will be a drop in security.  But then I guess that's good for the west, so yes, Russia please move to new systems :)
  • Linux gives you much more privacy than Windows
  • Well, that's because you haven't read how time and time again, Apple,google and microsoft provide backdoor to the American government. I love Microsoft, but i don't blame any country to protect their country interest. And im against company interfering in politics, which microsoft does to, funding interest groups and etc... They should remain solely a business company(so that other government can trust more)
  • I doubt the Russian government will be able to cover all the security if they start using a custom OS, specially if they base it off open source solutions. It will probably be as bad as using a software with (reported) backdoors
  • By all mean...Go ahead. You have been trying that since the cold war.
  • Hail HYDRA.
  • USA should have chosen one amongst : Software export sales or NSA, CIA led spying syndicate. Both don't go well together, more countries and Governments will fix up their own version of Linux in the future.   Will need few more wars to shore up the lost finances in software exports, the Military Industrial Complex can fill up the shortfall. The Neocons will strike after the election dust settles.
  • Don't see the problem here, if the positions were reversed and Russian software was the defacto standard no one outside of Russia would complain. Typical hypocricy.
  • I don't get why this is even necessary. I mean, even the U.S. government uses their own customized image of Windows. Why wouldn't Russia just do the same?
  • They simply don't trust that its safe, and its part of a larger 'Anti-USA' movement by Putin.  
  • That's the point of using a customized image. They make it safe for them.
  • Seriously. Wasn't Microsoft required to work with the Chinese government for this very same purpose?
  • Hopefully they'll make it open-source, but I won't hold my breath.
  • Ha...they've tried this before actually.
  • Sure, why not.    Will take a long time, will create jobs. They will never catch up with up-to-date technology, 
    but that might not matter within governments.  It's going to be a mess. But that is the price you have to pay.  Will be interesting how things go.    
  • Don't be so sure. The Chinese have caught up rapidly in the mobile hardware game despite being the butt of jokes just a few years ago. Never underestimate your foe.
  • Hardware is no big deal there, specially if they use exactly the same parts American companies use. The technology for those parts though is mainly developed in the US, so cutting relations would be like freezing in time with the same tech like forever. Just look at NK and their 1960's airplanes and cars lol
  • UK not US. But doesn't change your point
  • Chinese (administration) get things done. Russian(s) administration sometimes get things done,
    but more often talk about getting things done. Btw., I do not consider Russia as a "foe", an opponent maybe. I have no political thoughts here, just contemplating switching an environment from Windows to Linux / LibreOffice. Other countries have tried/tested Linux / Libre Office as well, respectively use that combo. If I remember correctly,
    the French police and the Italian military (or parts of it) went that way to save on licenes.
    Not sure what the state is today, would be worthwhile checking. I would guess that many/most servers of the Russian government are based on Linux 
    (lots of handwaving here, I have no data). I would assume that many Russian authoroties still use pretty old software, like Windows XP and old versions of Office. When your IT is that old and outdated, you might as well migrate to Linux (Ubuntu) anyway. .  
  • So Microsoft accuses the Russians of exploiting its security flaw (the one outed by Google) to hack the US and the Russians respond by threatening to stop using Windows and other US developed OSs. Either there's holes in the reporting (not by Windows Central necessarily) or interesting move, Mr. Putin.
  • When did microsoft accuse Russia of exploiting this?
  • Already there is a red hat distro, which is implemented in some government institutions.
    Yes it's looks old-fashioned (as most linux DE), but works fine. And if we talk about Office apps, this packet will include apps from different manufactures (example - russian "мой офис"
    And the last, everybody here talk only about political aspects of this move (and don't forget, this is only announcement, but still not a law), but I suppose there is a business aspect too.
  •   The business aspect of all interested parties, Russian or others,
    are mostly interested to save lincense costs. Security issues are maybe only a killer-arguement to justy the switch.
    People and IT admins who are pretty happy using Microsoft software
    and everything works fine will not be very motivated to switch to Linux / LibreOffice. 
    Migration to a different system is always a big, unwelcome disruption in one's business
    and it takes years till your done with the migration process. If you said, ooops, we are short on money, we have a hard time to come up with the money for the licenses, you'll have a lot more discussions on your back. So citing security concerns is helping to kill any upcoming discussion. The mangers still will continue to work with the latest and greatest Microsoft software, 
    because they will find a lot excuses for excemptions,
    the masses of lowly clerks will use Linux / LibreOffice.   
  • Quite understandable, but also very difficult.
  • This is absurd. The Windows OS has been refined for YEARS it would take years (decades?) for ANY new OS to reach the level of security and functionality Windows has (plus governments, no matter the country, don't exactly have a fantastic track record when it comes to developing innovative technologies... Or... Well... Anything for that matter). The slight risk of a backdoor in Windows OS or some future assistance MS may provide to the US government against Russia is far outweighed by the thousands of security flaws that will quickly be found in a BRAND NEW OS... The CIA won't need Microsoft's help to break into an new, largely untested OS.
  • Actually, the OS itself could be done relatively quick. And if done right, it could easily be more secure than Windows. The real problem lies with the lack of software compatible with that OS. And the even bigger problem is educating a country full of developers to build for it and then actually making them want to build for it.   It wouldn't be useful at all. Going with a Linux distro is their best bet.
  • CIA and FBI themselves still have some super-old PCs and software. Citing security issues is just a measure to shut down discussions
    and cover the fact that it is all about cost cutting. .
  • If this is what they want to do...Go for it...You can find Linux versions of the OS and Office, even mail servers if that is what you need. And it's even a LOT cheaper than owning your own Exchange server or Office 365. Talk talk talk.... If your going to do it, do it..
  • Putin is not just talk, They have already started walking the talk, makes sense too with the kind of relation USA and Russia share since decades. Here is the link to their earlier move last month:
  • Same with the city of Munich, they also did the switch (at least partially). It took them years after years and they are still not fully done.
    And once in a while there still comes up the discussion
    to make a new switch, this time to W10 etc. When you go through a migration of the magnitude
    you are always be in for trouble and chaos.   The thing is:
    When you are starting a new business or organisation
    you can start with Linux / LibreOffice at day 1. 
    Once you settled for an ITscape, it's hard to switch.  
  • I'm thinking the contract renewal negotiation for the SA license fee didn't quite go well - this isn't the only cost-related decision the Russians are making (Defense cuts & reorgs were also announced). Keep in mind that a lot of foreign currency normally comes in from oil and gas sales, and the Crimea related sanctions have hurt the Russian economy some in addition to low oil prices (gee, how did that happen?)
    So why not use this as a PR story for internal use (yes, they know very well that cutting all Microsoft s/w won't be easy) and spin it a bit to see what happens? Russians love playing chess, even on a political scale.
  • Good riddance. Any new system they build will be far behind in security. Also the more time goes by that they don't use Windows the more they will become less and less familiar with it as it evolves.
  • Private enterprises still will continue to use Windows.
    And privately, people who work for some government agency
    still will buy PCs with Windows and Office. If the Russian government really were serious about security as an issue
    they would need to make a collective switch to Ubuntu phone as well.
  • Dem Russians are sounding very suspicious here... what could they be up to? 
  • AdidasOS for a true slav
  • I would say the best thing to do is to make sure where you store things are on trusted and protected servers and what gets installed on the PC comes from trusted sources. I would trust Microsoft for the OS and tools but be cautious about other software and the internet in general.