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China probes Microsoft's web browser, media player

Microsoft is targeted by Chinese regulators for allegedly breaching anti-monopoly rules. Announcing a formal probe, regulator SAIC has said it's focusing specifically on the Windows web browser and media player.

China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) said Tuesday it was suspecting

Microsoft of not being fully transparent with information about its Windows and Office sales


SAIC chief Zhang Mao told reporters at a briefing in Beijing that Microsoft had expressed its willingness to cooperate with ongoing investigations.

"The investigation is presently ongoing, and we will disclose the results to the public in a timely fashion," Zhang said.

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SAIC is one of three Chinese anti-monopoly regulators. It formally announced an investigation into Microsoft earlier this month following raids on the company's offices in several cities and questioning Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Mary Snapp.

Microsoft is suspected of violating China's anti-monopoly law in relation to problems with compatibility, bundling and document authentication for its Windows operating system and Office software.

As Windows rose to become the world's most important operating system, Microsoft's strategy to bundle its

Internet Explorer

and Media Player software with Windows caused anti-trust probes in the US and Europe already. In 2001, Microsoft settled the case with the US Justice Department, while paying a fine of 1.4 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in Europe.

The Chinese probe, however, could extend beyond the media player and browser bundling issue, said You Youting, a partner at Shanghai Debund Law Offices.

"It's possible the government hasn't been successful in finding what they're looking for. Starting with these two products gives them time," he told the news agency Reuters.

The Microsoft investigation is one of nine opened this year which include the software, tobacco, telecommunications, insurance,

car manufacturing

and utilities sectors. They comprise domestic, foreign, state-owned enterprises and trade associations.

uhe/ng (Reuters, AFP)

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