China Warns Microsoft (MSFT) Against Antitrust Probe Interference

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In a surprising strongly-worded public warning, Chinese official instructed Microsoft (MSFT) on Monday not to interfere with an ongoing antitrust investigation against the company “in any way”. No exact reasons were given by the Chinese government regarding this sudden probe, but the warning came via a statement published on the website of China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce [SAIC], the government agency tasked with ensuring competition in the marketplace, which said it was formally investigating Microsoft for breach of antitrust rules and “monopolistic behavior”. The agency also said it had raided four of the company’s offices in China, and that it had questioned Microsoft’s corporate vice president, Mary Snapp, who was at the regulator’s office on Monday.

While SAIC has not charged Microsoft with obstructing its investigation, it confirmed that the software giant was suspected of violating China’s anti-monopoly law since June 2013, citing problems with document authentication.

SAIC also said the company did not fully disclose information of its products, as required by Chinese law, causing software incompatibility issues.

Microsoft, who has denied breaking local laws, saying in a statement on July 29 that its “business practices in China are designed to be compliant with Chinese law,” has remained tight-lipped on the investigation. Its China unit however, according to Xinuah news agency, responded on Wednesday saying it will “actively answer” questions raised in an anti-monopoly case.

Local state media, cited by The New York Times, accused Microsoft of “abusing its dominant market position” after the company ended its technical support for Windows XP in April, after serving it for nearly 13 years. The operating system is still used by about 200 million people in China.

M’soft has yet to publicly comment on the latest SAIC announcement. Wall Street Pit has contacted Redmond and will update this post when we have more information.

Update: A Microsoft spokesperson responded to our request for comment with regards to the comments made by China’s S.A.I.C. saying, “We’re serious about complying with China’s laws and committed to addressing SAIC’s questions and concerns.”

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