China gives Microsoft 20 days to respond to competition probe

China gives Microsoft 20 days to respond to competition probe

Summary: Microsoft gets a three week deadline to come up with an explanation for "compatibility issues" in Windows and Office that could violate Chinese competition laws.


China's competition regulator has given Microsoft 20 days to respond to its questions over "compatibility issues" with Windows and Office.

Following claims by China's competition regulator last week that Microsoft wasn't fully cooperating with its probe into the software giant, it's now given Microsoft three weeks to start talking

As noted in a report by Reuters, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has spoken with Microsoft China vice president David Chen and subsequently demanded a "written explanation within 20 days" from Microsoft regarding questions over compatibility issues in Windows and Office.

SAIC officials have previously called Microsoft's Internet Explorer and its media player "problematic", in what appears to be a reference to software bundling — an issue Microsoft resolved in the US and Europe some years ago.

Microsoft reiterated to Reuters that it is "serious about complying with China's laws and committed to addressing SAIC's questions and concerns".

The investigation into Microsoft's operations in China follows raids on the company's Chinese offices in July and warnings from SAIC to Microsoft not to interfere with its investigation. SAIC has also visited Accenture's offices in China in search of Microsoft documents.

At the time, it was thought the investigation stemmed from Microsoft dropping support for Windows XP — an OS still widely used in China. 

SAIC has since accused Microsoft of violating China's anti-monopoly laws since June 2013 over undisclosed compatibility issues in Windows and Office, in addition to bundling of software, and document authentication.

The anti-monopoly probe began shortly after the Central Government Procurement Centre banned government agencies from installing Windows 8 on PCs, apparently over security concerns.

While Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella plans to visit China later this month, it's not clear whether he will meet with Chinese regulators.

Microsoft's new obstacles in China come as the government reportedly begins ramping up efforts to build the nation's own operating system.  

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Topics: Enterprise Software, Microsoft, China, Windows

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Simply put..

    ..Go China! At least they have a backbone to stand up to the twisted bosses at Redmond. Well done!
    • Seriously?

      Seriously? I hope that was sarcasm.
      Buster Friendly
      • Why?

        MS has managed to buy its way out of one anti-trust lawsuit...
        And tried to do the same in another.

        What makes you think they won't try again?
        • They did?

          When did Microsoft do this, exactly?

          Besides that, backing China's probably one of the dumber things you could do.

          You don't hear the other countries complaining about MS, do you? Why do you suppose that is?

          China is well known for its piracy, and the current versions of Windows are a lot harder to pirate. Coincidence?
          • I guess you weren't paying attention...

            The US lawsuit convicted MS of illegal activity, yet they got off without any real punishment.

            The EU whacked them with a billion in fines... after MS stalled trying to get the governments to change the rules...

            MS paid 30 million to a South Korean company to make another anti-trust lawsuit to go away.

            Two out of three...

            So what makes you think they won't try again?
          • Oh?

            Which South Korea company was paid $30 million?

            You don't think stalling tactics aren't used by Google or Apple or Oracle or .... Get real.
        • Because

          Because it's obvious propaganda. This is all about the spying claims being tossed back and for the between the US and Chinese governments.
          Buster Friendly
        • Errrr

          You claim that Microsoft buys its way out of antic-trust lawsuits and yet show no proof of this. Why do you claim things and yet can't back up your claim.
    • Speaking of monopolies ...

      Why is there only 1 Communist Party of China ??
      • Because 2 communist parties would be redundant?

        • There are rival Communist Parties in a number of countries

          It started with the Stalin/Trotsky schism back in the 1920s and has only grown since then, but as all Communist states are effectively one party states (if not legally), this only happens in states not under Communist control (which would not include China).
          John L. Ries
    • RE: Simply put..

      So please explain why shouldn't FOSS have to be like the rest of the world and have to buy a license for patents to make there software compatible? boohoo they would not be able to give software away for free then hu? Why should FOSs be treated any different then what the rest of the free world. Clue, China is a communist non free market 90% or better of the windows users in china have stolen the copy. If I was MS I would proudly give then the middle finger solute
      • To what extent... those patents actually serve the public interest? And why? And does it serve the public interest to make it difficult/impossible to avoid using a patented technology (as patent-encumbered standards tend to do)? Answer those questions and you'll answer the other.

        At least here in the USA, we've never officially subscribed to the notion that inventors have a natural right to control their inventions (no matter how trivial) in perpetuity; rather, the US Constitution makes it plain that these sorts of monopolies are to be temporary and are to be geared toward promoting progress in science and the useful arts. A patent that doesn't serve that interest shouldn't be granted, even if failing to grant it makes life more difficult for incumbent vendors.
        John L. Ries
  • Makes no sense to me

    This thing is so weird. Now that MS has no monopoly on computer operating systems, owning only a fraction of the market, Chinese regulators are pursuing the company over monopoly related issues the company addressed over a decade ago in the US, Europe, and I believe other regions? Also, all major operating systems now bundle an Internet browser and media player. I think a major US competitor may have used proxy companies in China, to try and throw sand in MS' gears, via antitrust complaints. Maybe this is some bizarre way of China forcing MS to support Windows XP? This just doesn't make any sense.
    P. Douglas
    • They don't own a fraction of the personal computer OS market

      that is actually something they continue to utterly dominate.
      • That would be a large fraction

        90% market share is also a fraction, as it is not the whole; but it's a large enough one to give one considerable power to dictate to the market, as long as your customers think it's more trouble to switch or put off purchases than to tolerate you.
        John L. Ries
    • China is developing its own OS

      Articles in the last few days state that China is developing its own operating system to replace Windows (and Mac) because they are wary of the US spying on their computers. That is what this is largely about, I believe.
      • GuruOfReason: "China is developing its own OS"

        Will the Chinese people want to use it, knowing, more likely than not, the Chinese government will use it to spy on them? I seriously doubt if Tibetans and Uighurs would touch the thing with a 10-foot pole.

        P.S. The U.S. and E.U. governments have funded the development of a Linux distro for some time now: Scientific Linux, a RHEL derivative. SL is developed for use in high-energy physics and is available for the general public to download and use. Talks are currently underway amongst Fermilab. CERN, CentOS and Red Hat that could result in Scientific Linux becoming a CentOS Special Interest Group. CERN appears to be already committed to CentOS for CERN CentOS 7 built from RHEL 7 sources.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
  • All ridiculous

    I can understand countries looking at Microsoft's various business practices to see if they interfere with competition: antitrust enforcement is a normal aspect of commerce law.

    But saying that XP support is an antitrust issue? Really?

    I love XP as much as anyone. Still run it on a recording server. But it isn't as though Microsoft was obscure about their XP plans....
    • It might be to them...

      After all, they won't let anyone ELSE support it...