Chinese antitrust officials have given Microsoft 20 days to respond to questions about compatibility issues related to Windows and Office, as well as its use of verification codes, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and Reuters.
China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce [SAIC], which is conducting an antitrust investigation of Microsoft, is requiring Microsoft to explain “problems like incompatibility and other issues caused by a lack of released information about its Windows and Office software,” according to The Wall Street Journal report.
In addition, the SAIC is requiring Microsoft to explain its use of verification codes — a tool used by companies to combat piracy. Microsoft’s use of such codes “may have violated China’s anti-monopoly law”, the official Xinhua news agency said, according to the Reuters report.
Microsoft said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal that: “We strictly adhere to the relevant laws and rules in China and we have been actively cooperating with the SAIC’s investigation.”
The SAIC opened its 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.
The investigation is one of several antitrust probes China has launched against foreign companies.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is scheduled to visit China later this month, though it’s unclear whether he will be discussing the investigation with Chinese officials. Microsoft issued a statement last Friday, 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.”
In addition to the antitrust investigation, there are a number of other issues Microsoft is dealing with in China, including widespread piracy of its software; mass layoffs of workers at its Nokia facilities in China — layoffs that have been greeted with protests; and efforts to increase sales of its Windows Phone handsets, Xbox One consoles, and cloud offerings.