Apparently representatives from China’s State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) popped in for a quiet chat to the Microsoft offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.
No one is actually saying what the conversation was about, but it is not thought that the Chinese water torture was used at this point of the investigation.
SAIC is not just in charge of antitrust matters, it also takes the lead in any bribery and corruption investigations as well as intellectual property rights abuse cases,
A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company was happy to answer the government’s questions but did not say what those questions were.
Qualcomm is facing penalties that may exceed $1 billion in one such Chinese antitrust probe, following accusations of overcharging and abusing its market position.
Needless to say this is getting the US jolly cross. It favours letting businesses do whatever they like or senators are not going to get their usual Christmas presents from their favourite lobby group.
The US Chamber of Commerce earlier this year urged Washington to get tough with Beijing on its use of anti-competition rules, and warned that “concerns among U.S. companies are intensifying”.
Microsoft has been having a little bit of trouble in Big China lately. Earlier this month, activists said Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service were being disrupted.
In May, central government offices were banned from installing Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest operating system, on new computers. This ban has not been lifted, as multiple procurement notices since then have forbidden the use of Windows 8.