News Column

China confirms Microsoft raid, anti-monopoly probe

July 29, 2014

Chinese authorities on Tuesday confirmed they are investigating U.S. software giant Microsoft Corp. for anti-trust violations following surprise raids on the company's offices across the country.

Nearly 100 agents from China'sState Administration for Industry and Commerce burst into Microsoft workplaces in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu on Monday, seizing computers and corporate documents, the agency said in a statement on its website.

The coordinated raids came in response to complaints by unnamed corporations about Microsoft's business practices.

The company's failure to "completely make public relevant information about its Windows operating system and Office software has created compatibility issues" for the complainants, the agency said.

It also cited issues with Microsoft's practice of selling bundled products and its system for verifying the authenticity of its software.

During the raid, the agency copied contracts, financial documents and corporate communications, and seized two computers.

Agents also questioned the vice president, top managers and marketing and finance staff.

Several of the employees targeted by the investigation, however, were out of the country or unreachable, the agency said, preventing it from completing its inquiry.

It has asked them to report to its offices "as quickly as possible" for questioning.

Virtually all Chinese computers run some version of Microsoft Windows, and many of the country's online services, such as Internet banking, cannot be used with other software.

Since at least 2000, China has repeatedly tried to replace Microsoft's signature products with its own home-grown software based on the open-source Linux operating system.

In May, Beijing announced that it would ban the use of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system on all government computers.

The move was the first in a series of jabs at U.S. IT companies, following a U.S. decision in May to charge five Chinese military officers with cyber-spying.

State media have also made a sport of painting companies such as IBM, Cisco, and Apple as threats to national security, allegations based on whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations in 2013 about the U.S. National Security Agency's ubiquitous cyber-snooping.

Last week, China ended a months-long investigation into U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm, which supplies processors for the majority of Chinese smartphones, deeming it a monopoly.

Beijing has yet to announce what it plans to do about the finding.

Microsoft said Tuesday it had no comment on the agency's statement.

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: Japan Economic Newswire

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