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Microsoft unaware of reported China probe

Officials want to know whether it engaged in discriminatory pricing

By Jeremy Kirk
June 18, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - Microsoft Corp. officials said they have not heard of an investigation into whether the company unfairly dominates China's software market as reported by that country's state media on Wednesday.

"Microsoft is unaware of any investigation but is always willing to work with and cooperate with the Chinese government," said a company spokesman based in Singapore.

A working committee of China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) is investigating whether Microsoft engaged in discriminatory pricing, according to Xinhua Financial News, citing the state-owned Shanghai Securities News. A source told Shanghai Securities News that SIPO may bring an antitrust lawsuit once the country's antimonopoly laws are enacted in August, Xinhua said.

The committee will also look at Microsoft's practice of bundling other programs within its Windows operating system, the report said.

If accurate, China's probe follows a series of antitrust actions against Microsoft in South Korea, Europe and the U.S.

In 2005, the Korea Fair Trade Commission fined Microsoft $32 million. The agency ordered Microsoft to offer two versions of its Windows XP operating system in the country, one without Windows Media Player and Windows Messenger, and another with links to Web sites offering rival software. Microsoft dropped its subsequent appeal, but at one point, the company threatened to pull Windows from the Korean market.

The European Commission fined Microsoft $770 million in 2004 for breaching antitrust regulations. In that case, Microsoft was ordered to sell a version of its operating system without its Windows Media Player and detail interoperability information for its Windows workgroup servers. The company later lost its appeal of the ruling.

The commission started another investigation in January after receiving other complaints against Microsoft. The European Committee for Interoperable Systems, a Brussels-based trade group, lodged a complaint over the interoperability of Windows with other software. Browser maker Opera Software ASA also filed a complaint about Microsoft's inclusion of Internet Explorer with Windows.

The U.S. Department of Justice is still keeping tabs on Microsoft six years after a 2002 settlement. Microsoft is still producing technical documentation that will help competitors create more compatible products.

Dan Nysted of the IDG News Service contributed to this report.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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