The Chinese government’s quarrels with the American software company have not been recent., with them starting from 2014. Even though the State Administration for Industry and Commerce has already raided the company’s building, Microsoft is still facing increased scrutiny in China.
The 2014 raid consisted of completely seizing all available data storage devices, be they computers or servers, as well as investigating every internally sent email. Contracts and financial information were also collected, and employees from Microsoft’s marketing and finance departments were thoroughly interviewed.
The Chinese SAIC has released a statement that somewhat ordered Microsoft to release information regarding various alleged major issues found within the data collected back during the raid of 2014. This antitrust movement started from the government’s wish of seeing how Microsoft Office and Windows are bundled, as well as observing their compatibility with certain systems. Complaints regarding the aforementioned elements were filed by SAIC in the year 2013.
Although SAIC claims that the raid stemmed from compatibility concerns and trust issues, Western analysts and software experts saw this claim with a large degree of skepticism. This was due to the fact that Microsoft made the decision of discontinuing the support of Windows XP back in April 2014, right before the raid occurred.
Windows XP has been heavily pirated in China, and most consumers and businesses require this OS to run on their computers, even though the pirated version is completely illegal. Reportedly, China has also asked Microsoft to extend XP’s lifespan, even if only on Chinese territories. It’s safe to say that Microsoft declined, not wanting to show that a preferential treatment was applied to Chinese consumers only.
After the XP retirement decision was taken into effect, the Chinese government deployed a ban on Windows 8 for all business and government computers. Of course this move was seen by the general public as direct attack towards Microsoft, even if the government stated that it was not.
What is surprising is the fact that this new statement concerning SAIC’s investigation comes only after a couple of months since Microsoft began pushing more and more towards the Chinese market. Back in September, the company made a deal with Baidu, a Chinese web-service company, to promote the free Windows 10 upgrade to all users.
The recent alliance with China Electronics Technology Group, the largest defense and technology group currently present on the Chinese territory, in order to advertise Windows 10 towards government agencies and state-owned businesses, also happened only a mere 3 weeks ago. The continued function of this new joint-venture may be under threat if Windows will not completely comply to SAIC’s demands.
Fortunately, even if Microsoft is still facing increased scrutiny in China, a spokesperson from the company has clearly stated that Microsoft will satisfy the demands of SAIC, as well as adhere to all of the state’s laws. Hopefully, this problem will be solved in the near future, allowing the company to continue its current growth in the Asian markets.