Microsoft CEO Visits China, Expected To Meet Officials Over Anti-Trust Probe

Satya Nadella with Chinese President Xi Jinping

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella (right) with Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) during the presidents visit to their Redmond campus in 2015.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, is visiting Beijing this week, and is set to meet  republic officials in relation to an anti-trust probe over suspected monopolistic behavior.

One of China’s anti-monopoly regulators, The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), raided Microsoft’s offices in mid-2014 at various locations to investigate a complaint filed from an unnamed company.

Beijing-based WPS software maker, Kingsoft, had been keen to overtake Microsoft in the mobile internet sector, and sees Microsoft as a harsh competitor. WPS based documents often cannot be opened in a Windows system. SAIC likely investigated the interoperability between Kingsoft’s WPS and Microsoft’s Office Suite.

SAIC, on 29 July 2014 stated it had received a complaint from an unnamed company in June 2013 alleging Microsoft was violating China’s Anti-Monopoly Law as the US-based company did not fully reveal software information of Windows operating systems and MS-Office when they were required to ensure problems of interoperability, tie-in sales, and document certification were resolved.

Kingsoft is reported to have not confirmed or denied of filing a complaint.

“We support the effective measures taken by the government to maintain normal and healthy development of the market,” stated the email from a Kingsoft spokesperson, “Monopoly would harm healthy development of the industry and must be sanctioned. Monopolistic behaviors by our competitor for years suppressed the industry’s development and harmed users’ right to choose.”

In 2014 Microsoft decided to end support and security updates for Windows XP so that users may upgrade to Windows 10 and other new and more secure operating systems. The step underlined China’s dependence on US-based Microsoft with many Chinese companies and government offices using older MS software such as XP and its office suite.

Chinese regulators at the beginning of January requested that Microsoft explain “major issues” in data which was seized by their authorities through the antitrust investigation and Nadella is thought to be dealing with the matter on his current visit.

Microsoft said it is “serious in complying with China’s laws and is committed to addressing SAIC’s questions and concerns”, according to a Microsoft spokesperson.

The MS CEO will also attend a Microsoft Developer day and Tsinghua Management School event as a member of the advisory board of the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, of which President Xi Jinping is an alumni.

Nadella’s visit also comes as Microsoft prepares to shut down its MSN China portal in June.

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