China's Red Flag Linux Software is preparing to release an English-language version of its Desktop 4.0 operating system by the end of this year.
It will be the first non-Chinese commercial product offered by the company and will help Red Flag expand into international markets. The Chinese-language version was released in July.
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Red Flag's international expansion plans received a boost last month from a pact with Hewlett-Packard. The two companies have agreed to work together to market Red Flag Linux to enterprise customers, first in China and then in markets around the world.
Under the terms of that agreement, HP will provide Red Flag with help in sales and marketing, technology development, training and support services.
Even with HP's help, Red Flag's efforts to break into the global Linux market will take time.
"Red Flag products don't have many advantages in the global market," said Jenny Jin, a software analyst at IDC China. "The company will expand into the Asian market first, depending on its global partners."
In May, the company announced a deal with Taiwan's Acer to load Red Flag Linux on PCs sold in parts of South-east Asia. But that deal, along with Red Flag's alliance with HP, falls short of the company's original expansion plans, first laid out in 2000.
At the time, there were plans for Red Flag to introduce Japanese and Korean versions of Red Flag Linux followed by the release of an English version of the operating system. These plans were to have been completed by the end of 2002.
While the first English version of Red Flag Linux is soon to hit the market, the company appears to have delayed indefinitely its plans to offer Japanese and Korean versions of the software.
Sumner Lemon writes for IDG News Service