English version of China’s Red Flag Linux delayed

Red Flag Linux Software Co. Ltd.’s plans to expand its business beyond China have hit a setback with the company’s plans to release an English version of its Red Flag Linux Desktop operating system delayed until the third quarter.

“The market is changing so we have delayed the release date of our English version,” said Alice Yang, a spokeswoman for the company in Beijing. “We must choose the right time to enter the market with a new product.”

The English version of Red Flag Linux Desktop 4.0 had been scheduled to ship before the end of 2003. The Chinese version of Red Flag Desktop 4.0 was released in July 2003.

Red Flag will release an English version of Red Flag Linux Desktop 4.1 during the third quarter, Yang said. The introduction of the English version will occur simultaneously with the release of the Chinese version of Red Flag Linux Desktop 4.1, she said.

International expansion has been a long-standing goal for Red Flag. However, the company only offers Chinese-language software products, limiting its ability to expand beyond Chinese-speaking markets in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

To help extend its reach beyond China, Red Flag announced an agreement in May 2003 with Taiwan’s Acer Inc. to pre-install the Red Flag Linux operating system on computers sold by Acer in Southeast Asia. That announced was followed in Sept. by an agreement between Red Flag and Hewlett-Packard Co. to cooperate on sales of Red Flag Linux to enterprise customers, first in China and eventually in Asia-Pacific and the rest of the world.

This is not the first time that Red Flag’s international expansion plans have been set back by product delays.

In 2000, former Red Flag President and CEO Liu Bo announced plans to introduce Japanese and Korean versions of Red Flag Linux by the end of 2002. The Japanese and Korean versions never appeared and the company said in 2002 that plans for those versions had been delayed indefinitely. Liu resigned from Red Flag last month, citing personal reasons.

Nevertheless, Red Flag continues to look for ways to expand its reach beyond China. On Thursday, the company announced an agreement with Japan’s Miracle Linux Corp. to develop a Linux server platform, called Asianux, for Asian users. Alongside the agreement, Miracle Linux is evaluating whether to distribute Red Flag Linux in Japan, the company said.

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