China Issues Microsoft (MSFT) a 20-day Deadline to Answer Anti-monopoly Probe Questions

The latest in China’s antitrust probe over Microsoft (MSFT)’s business practices has the State Administration for Industry and Commerce [SAIC] giving the software giant a 20-day deadline to explain “compatibility issues” with Windows and Office.

As noted in a report by Reuters, SAIC said that it had spoken with Microsoft’s senior director for strategic sourcing David Chen and subsequently demanded a written explanation from Redmond regarding questions over compatibility issues in Windows and Office within the allotted time. In addition, the SAIC wants Microsoft to also explain its use of verification codes ; a tool used by companies as an anti-piracy mechanism. Msoft’s use of such codes “may have violated China’s anti-monopoly law”, China’s Xinhua news agency said, according to the Reuters report.

Microsoft, which faced similar lawsuits in the U.S. and EU, reiterated to the publication that it is “serious about complying with China’s laws and committed to addressing SAIC’s questions and concerns”.

The investigation is one of several antitrust probes China has launched against foreign companies. U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm (QCOM) is also facing an anti-monopoly probe in China. The firm is suspected of overcharging and abusing its dominant market position in wireless communication standards by Chinese anti-monopoly regulator the National Development and Reform Commission. If the allegations are proven, Qualcomm could be hit by fines of more than $1 billion. Critics say China’s six-year old antitrust law is being used to unfairly target overseas businesses, a charge the regulators deny.

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