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China gives Microsoft twenty days to respond to antitrust inquiry

Windows

China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) is demanding a "written explanation within 20 days" from Microsoft over queries about Windows and Office compatibility. Earlier this month, the Chinese government launched an antitrust investigation into Microsoft centred around the bundling of Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player with the Windows operating system.

Microsoft, after being accused of not being fully transparent when it comes to disclosure of Windows and Office sales data in the country, has stated to Reuters that it was "serious about complying with China's laws and committed to addressing SAIC's questions and concerns".

Meanwhile, the Chinese government is intent on reducing its reliance on the Redmond-based software giant, and has announced a homegrown OS, which will be launched later this year. Although not confirmed by Microsoft, Satya Nadella is believed to visit the country later this month to smoothen relations with the Chinese government.

Source: SAIC; Via: Neowin

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Reader comments

China gives Microsoft twenty days to respond to antitrust inquiry

140 Comments

Bit of a generalisation there don't you think? Judging 20+ countries the same as one. Just wondering where you're from...

EU, European Union... Yea, judging them as one. Don't like it, go back to being individual countries.

Nobody in China is buying Windows anyway, they're pirating it. So why should Microsoft have to answer these ridiculous allegations. There are no antritust issues with Microsoft in China. This is simply China retaliating because Microsoft dropped support for an ancient OS, and the fact that China wants to build it's own OS, so they raided Microsoft's offices in order to try and steal Windows  so they could copy it.

Apart from the piracy part, this is basically what happened in Europe. The German government didn't like the fact MSFT weren't supporting ancient versions and bundling in IE. Nothing is said about Apple shipping Safari with OS X... The Chinese government are just sore.

no, this is worse for the simole fact that china is making allegations that were settled like 20 years ago. if they are worried about bundling, just ask microsoft to offer the european version of windows which requires that you manually install ie and the media player.

so you guys feel the same way when European Union did that to MS or just when it comes to China?

The former. Does that make you happy about what I assume is your government's stupid actions?

The EU version was part money grab part the last ones to smack MS for the dirt they pulled when the investigation had started. THIS right here is just China looking for trade secrets to boast their IP pool. Pretty much most major advancements they have announced was just stolen from another company.

They already got source code to Windows from Microsoft as part of a deal to let them do business there. Where do you think their homegrown OS will get their "ideas" hehe. Why do you think Windows is so damn vulnerable? Now if MS would just OpenSource the OS then at least people could contribute to its safety against people that have an advantage like Chinese hackers and government. It's one assertion I do now agree with regarding OpenSource (because it is essentially available in China and other handful of countries that such agreements exist).

There are open source operating systems already. Everyone's free to switch to them. Anyone stridently demanding that a profit-making corporation make its software open source is just being plain stupid.

Don't kid yourself. 99.999...% of people who complain and make preposterous demands for Windows to be open sourced don't have the brains to wade through all those millions of lines of code and figure out whether a backdoor exists or not. When it comes to open source most everyone depends on someone else to audit the code.

Of course, it's not about everybody search for a backdoor, it's about the fact that everybody will be able to....

And some will do, then some will find backdoors if there is any, and that is all we need....

If at least one person, one person finds anything wary thing in there, EVERYBODY that is into tech will know!

If Linux had any backdoor, EVERY SINGLE ONE of us would know that.... even through none of us has ever taken our time to go look at the code....

Do you get it now?

If Linux had any backdoor, EVERY SINGLE ONE of us would know that.... even through none of us has ever taken our time to go look at the code....

No, every single one of us would only know if the person who discovered the backdoor or flaw believes in responsible disclosure. Every OS has flaws that can be exploited, that's just the nature of code written by humans. Black hat hackers and even governmental agencies trade in zero days and other flaws and stockpile them to target victims, and none of us are the wiser. Anyway I'll repeat, if someone's a FOSS advocate then all power to them, but if they demand open sourcing of every program or OS then they're being idiots, pure and simple. Not only is open source not an automatic guarantee of better code quality or freedom from bugs/exploits, it is also none of their business to make such preposterous demands. If they want to use FOSS, they can dump Windows and switch to Linux. No one's holding a gun to their heads and making them use the former. Don't like it, don't use it, instead of crying about how it's closed source and should be open sourced for the good of the world or some such nonsense.

A backdoor is different than a simple flaw in the code.... it's literally an open door made for someone to enter that is so obvious that software devs would at least find strange such an open door in there....

Even if they don't, they will they the maintainer about such a big door on the code so they would have to shut the door or.... yeah, people will know about it.

Also, what is the problem about saying how an OS could be better? Don't you do that all the time saying "WP should have a notification bar" or whatever like that?

All I am saying is that Windows would be better or at least more trustable if it was open source.... through I couldn't care less about WIndows, I just said that ["If you think the American government doesn't have the windows source code, you're lying to yourself."] just helps the argument that Windows would be better open source.... which (the fact about helping the argument) is true!

A backdoor is different than a simple flaw in the code.... it's literally an open door made for someone to enter that is so obvious that software devs would at least find strange such an open door in there....

If you think all backdoors are obvious and none can be a result of flaws in the code then you're sadly mistaken.

Also, what is the problem about saying how an OS could be better? Don't you do that all the time saying "WP should have a notification bar" or whatever like that?

All I am saying is that Windows would be better or at least more trustable if it was open source....

I do find this sort of demand/wish to be ridiculous. The difference between the first and second example is between what's possible and what isn't. Let's get real, the latter's never gonna happen unless hell freezes over so instead of wasting time contemplating useless things people can either keep using the OS or switch to an open source one if that's what they trust (blindly).

Hmm, ok, you're right on this one about backdoors.... but someone would still see it, and MS would have to fix it or it would come to public.

And I ain't requesting nothing, I just gave a tip of how they could make it better.... but I personally couldn't care less if they will open source it or not.

I just gave a tip of how they could make it better

Simply open sourcing the OS is no guarantee it will be improved unless you actually have people competent enough (more so than the ones MS employs) and more importantly interested enough to delve through millions of lines of code (especially when FOSS alternatives exist). Personally I like that we have choices available to us, both paid and free, and can use whatever we want on our own systems (or even have both installed).

Can't wait to hear MS response, but I swear the WORLD is against MS! This is so absurd. The only company I see that brings and develops such creative and futuristic technology.

Maybe not the whole world but certainly the majority. You can see that when EU blasts them with 500M fines and Google gets 500K for stealing WiFi from houses.

Everyone hates xbox even if they don't have a console, everyone hates on Windows 8 regardless they have it on their PC and they call it "complicated", everyone makes fun of the lack of apps and how nobody uses windows phone. The general users out there think windows phone users are weird and that internet explorer is a meme center that is going to last forever. Nobody uses or compliments about MSN, Bing or any micrsoft services, because they are too busy using google services. The surface have gotten seriously bad reviews, and RT itself is a massive joke to most people out there. Everyone keeps whining on and on and on about how MS is about to screw up the Nokia division and name. You may not think so but im speaking from all of the comments ive seen. 

This what Microsoft really needs to fix the perception issues, because no matter how many innovations they make, they're often gets a bad press even before they tried. There are indeed some issues to some of their softwares, services and even devices, but they're not junk as some (or many) people like to believe. Fortunately I don't think everyone hates Microsoft, it's just haters, competitors (I can give this a pass), fanboys, and whiners are too vocal about negatives on Microsoft. Alot of people are just unaware of Microsoft offerings, they're usually based opinons and buying decisions based from mass media marketing and people around them. 

Tell MS to cancel all fake license in china, china don't use genuine version of windows on their PC they use fake version, if they do almost 70percent of china's PC will stop working..

Would love to see this happen but unfortunately they are loathe to give up access to such a large marget, despite all the rampant and shameless piracy (including by most of the government itself).

Nope not me. I support Microsoft as they're are the pioneers. 90% of the world needs Microsoft. To bring them down is not easy. Newbie OS will have a hard time to keep up if the Pioneers don't give up on upgrading. Tech will evolve faster as long as there are rivals around. Go Microsoft! :D

They give poor and horrible conditions to live and work, with terrible salaries, people cannot buy a mac, their people doesn't have money to do that and then they begin to spell this "antitrust" shit? Only in china. I'd like that Microsoft has prepared a VERY good answer to China's government.

If I were Microsoft, I'd tell those guys to go screw themselves and recommend the use of Chromebooks in future. :P

Why is it Apple who bundles everything gets a pass but MS has to explain its polices? Who is more monopolistic than Google? Google blocks all of its apps on Microsoft system yet no government has sought to curtail that practice?

6-7% at best, higher in the US. It would be higher overall if not for all the pirated copies of XP China.

Apple doesn't sell or share OS to OEMs. MS does. What's ms to do when OEMs support Windows? Tell the whole world to buy chrome books if want stop monopoly.

Because Apple has 0,1% of OS market share and Microsoft 99% :) ?

How does that explain the situation in the mobile market then, where Google and Apple have majority marketshare? No bundling on those platforms?

It's the real reward to Microsoft which emphasises more China than India, so getting kick @ back. Release Cortana court China forest not for India, sui get rewarded

Honestly I do not see many differences on India or China app purchase...They are both looong way from USA and Europo Countries.
Ms should care "his home" first ;)

Completely agree. Microsoft thought china being a bigger market they should invest there and look how china government is treating them. Had they shifted that same energy to India they would have blossomed. The new government here is already looking to digitizing all government services and a Microsoft could have provided just that. Not only this, India has a long history with Microsoft and Nokia, people really trust these brands even though Nokia devices is now in Microsoft, people still accept them as reliable brands. That investment and energy into India and Microsoft computing and mobile devices would have soared.

China is going after Microsoft because it doesn't want to pay for anything. Microsoft should seek assistance from the Commerce and State Departments to file a trade dispute at the WTO for this.

They can try but good luck with that. US can't really pressure a country like China, that's a fact, and all it'll do is serve to get Microsoft thrown out of the country which is what they don't want, else they'd have themselves showed the Chinese the middle finger and walked out long ago.

I don't understand where is the problem for China.
Microsoft sells the "N" editions of Windows which don't bundle Windows Media Player.
Additionally, in every version and edition of Windows, when we first start them we are encouraged to choose our browser.
This whole thing is completely idiotic.

When Chinese government gets upset with some other foreign countries, they don't need a reason to screw up some foreign companies.

I wear only "made in Greece" or "made in EU" underwear. I don't trust Chinese underwear. They might file an antitrust BS cause my dick comes bundled in my underwear.

I think the Chinese Government is setting the ground work for 1) Get Windows out of China, then 2) Have MS build compatibility of Office, IE etc into China's new OS.

#1 is obvious, #2 makes no sense. If China's building their own OS (i.e. re-branding Linux) it's their responsibility to get the compatibility right if they want to. Why should MS do it for them when they can't even sell their OS there?

Good to know there are sensible Chinese around who don't always parrot whatever their great Leader or the government says but can think for themselves.

@Luffy Lau: Is it any wonder that foreigners have a bad impression of China given this sort of nonsense?

Actually they don't have to think they are the world, all they have in mind is that China is theirs, they can do whatever they want, written law or not. When they order people in China to jump, people only have to respond with "how high?"

MS should just geoblock activations from China for the 20 days... Then 3 days in when everyone's Windows stop working that'll teach 'em :)
Also what the deuce with the comparability 'issues'? Since when do they have to make their stuff compatible with other Office products?

"bankrupted"? How, pray tell? Oh, from the loss of all that phantom money that all those Chinese pirates never paid them in the first place?

For me is pretty obvious what China is doing. They have a pointless farce trial of MS for having a market monopoly (without making any money from it because Windows is all pirated in China anyway). Force MS to come clean and divulge their source code by court order and raiding MS China offices. To of the OS and release their own Chinese "Windows" compatible OS and mandate that to all Chinese state entries or companies dealing with the state and bye bye MS...

If this is the game plan, it is uber shady... Concurr that this is BS. Was bs in euro case, it is bs now

I'm still wondering what this new OS will be based on. They tried developing a national OS called Red Flag Linux some years ago and eventual discontinued it because nobody wanted it.

Wanna bet the new one will be yet another rebranded Linux too (and probably suffer the same fate)? They want to shun western software apparently but have no shame using Linux? Since when did Linux become a predominantly Chinese OS, despite no doubt some Chinese having contributed to it over the years?

You Republicans wanted a world-open-market....well here it is. In theory it works great with other economies like Europe. But, this is what you get when you are dealing with China. You allow so many Asian companies to sell products here that were stolen through trusted manufacturing or just flat out patent infringements. The only thing that happens is a small slap on the wrist and they keep selling the item for billions. Then when a non Asian company tries to sell a legitimate, self developed product abroad, they have to jump through so many hoops, its not worth it. This whole thing is ridiculous.

This whole thing is ridiculous, but let's be honest, most American product companies, their owners/managers and most importantly their stock prices would have palpitations if they were denied access to Chinese manufacturing facilities. And I'm sure you'll see the howls of anger from Americans who suddenly find that most of their goods are either in short supply or priced a lot higher than they were before. Chinese worker exploitation fattens the wallets of Americans, don't forget that.

Then Android should not include a browser, iOS should drop Safari, Mac OS should stop bundling Safari and iTunes, and Linux should(insert something, don't know Linux well enough to comment).

 

And ms will kill itself

You keep repeating this. Care to tell us just how much of its total revenue MS makes from Chinese sales?

This is what is ridiculous. China intentionally breaks more laws than anyone, and everyone bows to them.
The movie industry sells legitimate full blu-ray movies for $2 there. Why? They say to undercut what they are selling pirated version for on the street. Over here, they charge us $30 and throw the book at someone who gets caught torrenting. Utterly hypocritical.

They believe even at $2 they'll make enough sales given the massive market there that they'll make a net profit. Whether that's actually the case I don't know, or perhaps it's still a loss leader for them and they fervently hope that One Day they will turn a profit there when they magically and successfully convert all those piracy-loving Chinese into legit buyers...

I think MS should just take products outside China and stop this absurd thing..... how can you judge someone who doesn't work in your country?
then you can relocate office somewhere else, and then with internet you really keep selling your software, anyway, Chinese people usually pirate, like my country, so it's not like MS expect so much money from it.

it sucks China starts to do this, instead of progress, it's like the world is going worse everyday. it seems humans are just like that

What about manufacturing? MS like any other company gets a lot of its hardware manufactured there. Even if they can't be openly thrown out how hard do you think it would be for their manufacturing lines to suddenly develop mysterious problems, say unexplained parts/raw materials shortages, sudden and frequent appearance of new permits that they need to get to continue work but the govt. officials who give those permits are somehow never available, constant interruptions due to bogus laws being broken, problems in shipping and containers being 'misplaced'/lost, frequent worker strikes and so on and so forth? If they want to cut off ties they better be prepared for the worst case scenario to cut off all ties.

This is all about XP going EOL.  YLMF bought the XP.com domain name a few years ago.  They have been using it to distribute their copyright infringing, Linux based OS:

http://www.xp.com

do they fault apple for bundling safari with osx, or having ipods only work with itunes?

why dont they just punish microsoft for including a calculator with windows?

Its crazy how Microsoft gets treated in these scenarios but android nor IOS which are just as or more popular doesn't have to unbundle their products

Remember that MS is a convicted monopolist on 2 continents(US, Europe) already, so China is hardly off-base here.

It is if you consider the fact that their conviction was arguably bogus, and especially since none of their competitors have attracted the same amount of punishment despite indulging in the same or even worse practices.

Why would you want to conduct business with crooks. No offense but they talk about mutual respect yet they brazenly steal everything to produce themselves. From Russian mig engines to genetically engineered corn stalks. These corporations need to wake up for building up a country that's only going to destroy you at the end. Market share and stocks are sooo important that this country will sell its soul again, the rich, not thinking of the consequences or repercussion of their actions. Forget about the hacking that's done on an economical scale. Wonder what happened to all those solar companies that went out of business. And if your Chinese American and your offended its not a matter of being Chinese its a matter of values and what's right and wrong and trying to do the right thing.

Let's not blame only the profit-hungry corporations here, although of course they're one of the major culprits. Don't you think the average consumer in your country and elsewhere enjoys paying less for goods mass-manufactured in China? Why would manufacturing have moved en masse out of your country if not for the desire for lower costs and bigger profits for everyone?

Let me tell you, most people don't care if it's made in China or Sudan or whatever as long as it's cheap and gets the job done. Food items are a different thing and naturally there's a lot more scrutiny involved. Even clothing to some small extent. Baby goods? Definitely. But white goods, or things like mobile phones, tablets and what have you? As long as it has a well-known company's name printed on top and costs less (although majority of the cost savings are rarely passed on to the customer) no-one cares about its country of origin or the working conditions there or whatever.

As a consumer you can shirk responsibility all you want but doesn't make it go away. It's not as if there's nothing at all you can do about it. If you vote with your wallet and pledge that you'll only buy locally produced goods even if it costs more, and if enough of you do it, the companies have to respond accordingly. Good luck finding enough people though who would be crazy enough to boycott everything made in China even if it's cheaper and performs adequately.

Give you perfect examples All big brand names clothing that people use to love and buy says made in china. Knowing the quality is not the same bothers me and a lot of people. Would you like to buy pots like Clad once and have it last a life time or continually buy Chinese knowing that lead, mercury, nickel etc might be in those pots. Now were sending our chickens to china to be processed and sent back here for consumption your average person is not knowledgeable of all these events that are transpiring behind the seen. The quality control in China is not the same as here. When we have to inspect the plants we have to give them notice. I'm definitely not buy chicken nuggets or canned and frozen products unless it say made in USA.

Heinz recently admitted its difficult to enforce because there products come from lets say one So many different vendors, local farmers etc that its very hard to have some sort of quality control in place.

Anyway I predict 3D printers are going to put a stop to that. Once a Corporation is created and that becomes there specialty from clothes, toys, planes, to food. Further down the road everyone might have one in there community or home.

When China starts playing fair then they can ask questions..come to think of it I'm sure they stole a bunch of MS OS data to build their own OS.

By the way, last time it was Google that got screwed up by Chinese government, this time it's MS, and who will be the next US technology company? Apple?

Welcome to 20 years ago, China!

I expect to see similar suits against Google and Apple, since they are doing the same thing... Especially Google, who is actively hamstringing or keeping their apps from some competitor's products, unlike Microsoft.

Oh wait, this will NEVER happen.