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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

August 28, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Report: Microsoft CEO Nadella going to China as China investigates Microsoft for antitrust

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is scheduled to visit China next month, according to a report Thursday from Reuters.

The visit would be coming amid a Chinese government antitrust investigation of Microsoft, though it was unclear whether Nadella would be meeting Chinese government officials to discuss the investigation, according to the Reuters report, which cited a source familiar with the matter.

In addition to the antitrust investigation, there are a number of other issues Microsoft is dealing with in China, including mass layoffs of workers at its Nokia facilities in China — layoffs that have been greeted with protests; widespread piracy of its software; and efforts to increase sales of its Windows Phone handsets, Xbox One consoles, and cloud offerings.

[Update 2:16 p.m. Aug. 28: Microsoft declined to say what Nadella’s trip agenda entails but the company issued a statement, saying: “Satya’s trip was planned before the Chinese government investigation began. We’re committed to complying with China’s laws and addressing SAIC’s questions and concerns.”]

On the antitrust front, China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce [SAIC] opened a case in June, saying Microsoft improperly failed to publish all documentation regarding its Windows and Office software. The agency said investigators visited Microsoft’s China headquarters in Beijing and branches in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu in southwestern China in July, according to an Associated Press report.

Microsoft said at the time that it aims “to build products that deliver the features, security and reliability customers expect, and we will address any concerns the government may have,” according to the AP report.

According to Thursday’s Reuters report, China is focusing its investigation on Microsoft’s web browser and media player, as well as whether the company was transparent about its Windows and Office sales. The report goes on to say:

The investigation has been met with puzzlement outside China, given that Microsoft settled U.S. and European antitrust cases around Windows more than a decade ago, and its desktop software monopoly is now largely irrelevant with the explosion of tablets and phones running Apple Inc or Google Inc software.

The probe comes amid a spate of antitrust probes against foreign firms in China, including Qualcomm and German car maker Daimler AG’s luxury auto unit Mercedes-Benz, renewing fears of Chinese protectionism.




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