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Chinese Government Probes Microsoft For Breaches of Monopoly Law 110

Posted by timothy
from the no-one-votes-libertarian-in-china dept.
DroidJason1 writes The Chinese government is investigating Microsoft for possible breaches of anti-monopoly laws, following a series of surprise visits to Redmond's offices in cities across China on Monday. These surprise visits were part of China's ongoing investigation [warning: WSJ paywall], and were based on security complaints about Microsoft's Windows operating system and Office productivity suite. Results from an earlier inspection apparently were not enough to clear Microsoft of suspicion of anti-competitive behavior. Microsoft's alleged anti-monopoly behavior is a criminal matter, so if found guilty, the software giant could face steep fines as well as other sanctions.
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Chinese Government Probes Microsoft For Breaches of Monopoly Law

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2014 @12:13AM (#47572089)

    This is like being accused of overeating by the world's biggest fat man.

    • `Leave off that!' screamed the Queen. `You make me giddy.' And then, turning to the rose-tree, she went on, `What HAVE you been doing here?'

      `May it please your Majesty,' said Two, in a very humble tone, going down on one knee as he spoke, `we were trying--'

      `I see!' said the Queen, who had meanwhile been examining the roses. `Off with their heads!'
    • This is like being accused of overeating by the world's biggest fat man.

      Yes, it is. It is about security rather than monopoly. Both discouraging Chinese citizens from using Microsoft (this lets state media trash talk them for a little while) and trying to get their hands on source code or other references to flaws in the OS.

  • by 0xdeaddead (797696) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @12:30AM (#47572117) Homepage Journal

    what the DOJ failed to do.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You mean a public shakedown?

    • by sg_oneill (159032)

      what the DOJ failed to do.

      Well not quite. The DOJ proposed splitting microsoft in half. Chinas solution to corruption tends to involve ventilating the CEOs brain with lead, 15 minutes after the judge declares "Fuck this guy!".

      The only one who seemed to be advocating caping bill G here was probably ESR, because ESR is kind of a mentalist (RMS doesnt do guns)

      • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Thursday July 31, 2014 @01:12AM (#47572215) Homepage Journal

        RMS doesn't do guns because only one or two are open-source, and he's seen the code and knows they're shitty.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          RMS doesn't do guns because only one or two are open-source, and he's seen the code and knows they're shitty.

          The 1911 is Open Source today, you can literally download blueprints for every part of the weapon. It's one of the best-loved and best-performing firearms of all time. It does require the use of appropriate ammunition, but the openness of the design has permitted developers to adapt it to several different types.

          • by halivar (535827)

            So, non-free dependencies? Not on my watch!

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              So, non-free dependencies? Not on my watch!

              The specifications for the required ammunition are well-known. The stuff is harder to make than the firearm, however. For that to differ you'll have to use something substantially higher- or lower-tech, e.g. caseless or black powder. And caseless ammo is only easier to produce if you disregard the difficulty of producing a practical propellant.

    • by s.petry (762400) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @10:03AM (#47574019)

      The DOJ did not fail to convict Microsoft of being an illegal monopoly, they failed to _PUNISH_ them after they were found guilty. Microsoft paid lobbyists to convince congress that breaking them apart (as was done with AT&T) would cause further economic collapse. Yeah yeah, so much for the separation of powers...

      It was not just the DOJ that failed to punish MS. Several states had similar successful trials where MS was found guilty, and the payout from MS was "free MS products for Education and Government" for N years ( in some cases 5 years ). I wrote numerous articles and papers back then explaining how this was not a punishment, but obviously a method of further entrenching their monopoly.

      • by rahvin112 (446269)

        The trial phase of Microsoft was during the Clinton Administration. The Penalty phase took place during the Bush Admin and the US attorney was changed by the president. The new attorney threw out all the possible mitigation the previous US attorney had developed.

        Why Microsoft was never effectively punished should be obvious.

        • by s.petry (762400)
          Which trial are you referring to exactly? As I stated, MS was found guilty numerous times ant there were several separate cases tried under Bush which were all successful. The first BIG trial was under Clinton, and Bush blocked (technically heavily influenced) more Federal trials.
  • by Calavar (1587721) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @12:33AM (#47572129)
    ...but seriously, who writes this stuff?

    following a series of surprise visits to Redmond's offices in cities across China on Monday

    While I understand that this is metonymy, it's confusing as hell because at first read "Redmond's offices" == "Microsoft's offices in Redmond."

    • Agreed. I suspect they thought they were being clever in using it to refer to them in this context, but it's only a clever turn of phrase until it gets in the way of understanding it easily.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Y'arr, synecdoche be a harsh mistress.

    • Technically you're style Nazi. Figures of speech aren't covered by grammar.

    • by rhazz (2853871)
      The only reason I even opened this discussion was to complain about the same thing. I think Slashdot is making me a bad person.
  • by rsmith-mac (639075) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @12:40AM (#47572145)

    Unsurprisingly, the monopoly claims are only a cover story for other policy issues with China. As TFA even points out:

    China confirmed it is investigating whether Microsoft Corp. broke its antimonopoly laws, the latest sign of growing commercial and policy tensions between the U.S. and China that are roiling technology companies in both countries.

    The investigation represents a new friction point between the countries following disclosures about U.S. National Security Agency surveillance and revelations of hacking of U.S. networks by China's military.

    "There's a digital Cold War going on between the U.S. and China," said Alvin Kwock, an analyst with J.P. Morgan.

    "The Chinese government has seized on using the [antimonopoly law] to promote Chinese producer welfare and to advance industrial policies that nurture domestic enterprises," the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents major U.S. corporations,wrote in an April letter to federal officials.

    Unfortunately for Microsoft, they likely would have been better off actually breaking the law, because at least that would result in a trial over the truth (and some ill-gotten gains in the process). Instead, because this is a political maneuver by the Chinese, Microsoft is being used as a scapegoat here. Any resulting punishment for Microsoft will be based on the state of Sino-American relations and whether China wants to harm the US by proxy. Which given how things currently stand, MS is looking rather screwed.

    • by Nyder (754090) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @01:08AM (#47572207) Journal

      ...

      Unfortunately for Microsoft, they likely would have been better off actually breaking the law, because at least that would result in a trial over the truth (and some ill-gotten gains in the process). Instead, because this is a political maneuver by the Chinese, Microsoft is being used as a scapegoat here. Any resulting punishment for Microsoft will be based on the state of Sino-American relations and whether China wants to harm the US by proxy. Which given how things currently stand, MS is looking rather screwed.

      And most of us here feel really bad for MS getting fucked over, after they've fucked over so many others.

      I don't believe in karma, but if I did, this is a prime example of karma.

    • by johanw (1001493)

      Since the US is run by companies and 3-letter agencies I would not call it exactly "by proxy".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      MS is looking rather screwed

      As no one has yet be able to screw MS since its inception, and as MS has screwed so many others throughout its own history --- it may be a good thing that MS finally getting that BIG SCREW that it so deserves !

    • In my experience, one should always read the tea leaves or die. The more someone has to lose the better the intelligence gathering should be. As big as Microsofts interests are in China, Microsoft should have had fair warning that this was to happen. Hardly anything is really a secret. To me, the lose proposition is that they did not seem fit to do anything about it before it happened.

      And yes, I am aware of all the complications of doing the job. Thats what makes it special. And inexcusable for Microsoft. K

      • So you're saying Microsoft needs to play a more political game, keep an eye on government, and be prepared to respond and manipulate as needed? You're saying they've not done a 'good enough' job of that in China?

        How disappointing.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Re 'being used as a scapegoat here"
      If the encryption is weak and is shared with a few govs its better for China to walk away from all tame US products and start again withe their own code and software solutions.
    • by Stuarticus (1205322) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @04:51AM (#47572801)

      Unfortunately for Microsoft, they likely would have been better off actually breaking the law,

      Who says they didn't? Your quote from the chamber of commerce (a business lobbying group, wonder where their interests lie) seems to imply they are using anti-monopoly laws to encourage competition, isn't that kind of the point?

      • by Nemyst (1383049)
        Not to encourage competition, to encourage THEIR horse in the race. You can be fucking sure that if it were a Chinese corporation with the monopoly (a real one), they'd be heralded as champions of Chinese ingenuity or something.
    • by jodido (1052890) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @09:52AM (#47573945)
      All the claims that this is "political" come from Americans, or are uncited. "The latest sign of growing...tensions" according to whom? "...a new friction point..." according to whom? "... said Alvin Kwock, AN ANALYST WITH J.P. MORGAN" [caps added by me]. How about what China thinks? I have no doubt Microsoft broke Chinese laws. Why should Chinese laws be different? And thereby set themselves up to be prosecuted.
    • by Olorion (2465574)

      Probably payback for the U.S. raking Chinese company Huawei over the coals.

      In case you've forgotten, a congressional committee accused Huawei of installing spyware into the equipment it was selling, and even hauled the company president into the Capitol, forcing him to give testimony. Uselessly, of course, as that was a hanging committee, and there was no way the poor guy could prove his innocence. It's impossible to prove a negative. There was an enormous media circus, totally humiliating the company.

      Wo

  • So... it's apparently a criminal matter in China to be against monopolies? WTF?
    • Why wouldn't it? China's been slowiy trialing with freeing up the market bit by bit. Even for a autocratic single-party system, they understand they cannot let any single organization, whether they're private or state-owned to be in complete control.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why wouldn't it? China's been slowiy trialing with freeing up the market bit by bit. Even for a autocratic single-party system, they understand they cannot let any single organization, whether they're private or state-owned to be in complete control.

        Have you heard of the Communist Party of China?

        • Why wouldn't it? China's been slowiy trialing with freeing up the market bit by bit. Even for a autocratic single-party system, they understand they cannot let any single organization, whether they're private or state-owned to be in complete control.

          Have you heard of the Communist Party of China?

          Have you studied how China actually works rather than this nightmare version that economists who haven't even been to China are scaring you with?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Nothing can stop the government or the people to switch to Linux or Mac OS. How is Microsoft Anti competitive here? Because they don't allow others to make copy of their OS? I would think that's normal, to protect your IP.
    China is obviously just looking to steal data from Microsoft here.

    • It's not the OS, it's the closed office file formats you insensitive dolt!

  • So ? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2014 @01:50AM (#47572317)

    So all six people in China who purchased software from Microsoft get a full refund and an apology?

    Sounds like a 'nothing to see here' storey to me.

  • ... read this and thought this was a hacking-related article

  • ...Microsoft didn't share the source code?

    I'm no Microsoft fan, but this is what bothering to do business with China gets us. China with its essentially a rigged economy based on something close to slave labor. The only way to compete economically with that is to become that. The cheap shit at Walmart just ain't worth it.
    • China with its essentially a rigged economy based on something close to slave labor.

      And you know this how exactly? I've actually been to China whereas you pretty clearly have not. Slave labor? 'Fraid not. China has a lot of people and so thanks to supply and demand, wages are relatively low there. (but rising fast) Yes the Chinese government has a hand in everything but there are plenty of places in the US and EU economies where free trade does not exist and the government is heavily involved. Agriculture, weapons manufacturing, Boeing/Airbus, satellites, automobiles, and many more

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Slave labor? 'Fraid not.

        The Chinese government itself literally operates labor camps where criminals are forced to produce consumer goods.

        Your argument would be more credible

        You clearly do not decide who is credible when you say that slave labor is not slave labor.

      • by linearZ (710002)

        And you know this how exactly?

        There are a lot of sources. The one is quite credible credible: http://www.globalslaveryindex.... [globalslaveryindex.org]

        The global slavery index only includes people that are known to be slaves. This doesn't include the mass amounts of dormitory employees that, due to economic conditions manufactured by the government, work for nearly nothing and can't afford to live outside their factory camps.

        Your argument would be more credible if the US and EU didn't have manufacturing sectors equal to or larger than China's manufacturing sector.

        So you are saying that slave labor is OK because China's economy isn't as big as the US and EU?

        I have a stamping press in my plant for making wire leads. Operating this press requires some of skilled labor to set up and then it is all automated. No amount of cheap labor from China can undercut us on price, we're fast and we can pay our people good wages too.

        Have you been to China and seen what tho

  • Microsoft, Oracle et al seed "insider info" to Congress-Critters who recently legalized Insider Trading by Congress Critters after they were caught with their hands in the "Insider Trading Cookie Jar" en mass, courtesy the H1-B Visa Gang and other Lobbyist Groups but we can all rest assured, that the majoritywere tech stcoks 'cause they are HOT HOT HOT. Why aren't we killing the heads of State to preserve our way of life?
  • by TheEyes (1686556) on Thursday July 31, 2014 @02:59AM (#47572471)

    Frankly, anyone who does business in China should come to expect this. Stories abound about how Chinese companies "compete" with foreign companies in China: you wake up one day and find out half your manufacturing and IT infrastructure is "missing", some of which returns in a few weeks, and then three months later a new, Chinese-owned factory opens up down the street, making products that look exactly like yours minus the brand names and serial numbers, which just happen to have great contacts with the Chinese government so that factory ends up with all the lucrative government and commercial contracts while your company just continues to bleed money on its "China strategy".

    This is just the next step, for companies like Microsoft and Apple that rely on their brand to sell product despite having government-owned knockoffs everywhere. A foreign company managing to actually compete with an honest Chinese company? Why, they must be cheating. And we will find cheating, whether or not it exists, and take what's rightfully ours, that is, anything that ever touches Chinese soil.

    • karma again (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      China is doing what the west did in its day. E.g. if the orient had valuable plants we would sneak them out and grow them ourselves; if the French had movie technology we'd copy it and build our own industry. Of course these days we would NEVER take another person's secrets, and NEVER have unequal trade practices. /sarcasm

  • Do they make a lot of profits from China? With all the piracy and all, their offices in China might be more for symbolic presence than because they're making money in that country.

  • Kudos to the authors for the "paywall" warning (I realize this digresses from the article). I detest clicking on a link, especially from a Google News, and landing on an annoying paywall.
  • Microsoft will be forced to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows 95!
  • China is one of the few countries that send convicted corrupt business executives to the firing squad.

    This could be interesting.

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