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China Launches Antitrust Probe Vs. Microsoft 295

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the get-on-the-bus dept.
snydeq writes "China has launched an investigation into whether Microsoft unfairly dominates its software market, according to a state media report. A working committee of China's State Intellectual Property Office is investigating whether Microsoft engaged in discriminatory pricing and will also look at Microsoft's practice of bundling other software programs within its Windows operating system, according to the report. The probe is part of a greater sweep of operating systems and other software developed by multinational companies that cost much more in China than in the U.S. 'On the one hand, global software firms, taking advantage of their monopoly position, set unreasonably high prices for genuine software while on the other hand, they criticise Chinese for poor copyright awareness. This is abnormal,' a source said."
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China Launches Antitrust Probe Vs. Microsoft

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  • Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wamerocity (1106155) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:23AM (#23839707) Journal
    I don't think you can call it a monopoly if all the companies software in your country is pirated.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I believe what they are trying to say is that. "We pirate your software because your prices are so effen high" and now they are using this action as an excuse for MS to fsck off and justify what they did in front of the world ... that is if they even care.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hassman (320786)
        That's funny. Isn't that why people pirate music? People here usually think that is a valid excuse / reason. Attn: DOJ, time to sue the RIAA!
    • Re:Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:40AM (#23840017) Homepage Journal
      Well, given that said company wants the country to do something about it, then whether the way they set and enforce prices is legal in that country is certainly a relevant question. If Microsoft is calling upon China to enforce its intellectual property laws, it can hardly complain if China agrees, but also insists on enforcing its anti-trust laws.
    • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:41AM (#23840031)
      China To Microsoft: "You're trying to have a monopoly on what we've rightfully stolen"
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      The Chinese government is just fighting for consumer rights here--unless the consumer says anything bad about the Chinese government or tries to access a pro-democracy site on the internet, in which case they will be imprisoned.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't think you can call it a monopoly if all the companies software in your country is pirated.

      Actually, you can, given the fact that piracy is known Microsoft's tactics to capture vast amounts of market share. They just sit there and watch their share grow without spending a penny. They come later and put pressure on government and commercial organizations to make pay for their products.

      Establishing the monopoly by selling the product very cheap and then increasing the prices drastically is called dumping.
      Dumping is illegal elsewhere, but Microsoft does exactly the same thing and is able to act

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Next I hope is an antitrust probe of the Chinese government in business.
  • Abnormal? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Xelios (822510) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:24AM (#23839727)
    "set unreasonably high prices for genuine software while on the other hand, they criticise Chinese for poor copyright awareness. This is abnormal"

    Actually, that sounds pretty normal to me.
  • Par for the course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:25AM (#23839733) Journal
    Don't read too much into the story. All it means is one more high party official is looking to get his share of payments to the top officials in China. Once a few million $ are safely handed over, the probe will be frozen, to be thawed only during the negotiations of the next payment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cduffy (652)
      My distinct impression was that most of the corruption in the Chinese government was closer to the local level. Do you have any solid information to the contrary?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Most != ALL

        Local corruption is blatant but you negotiate with the corrupt party directly openly discussing the quids for the pro quos. Higher you go, complex it gets. Often you deal with intermediaries, and you are not sure if they really represent the official they claim to represent, what is given and what is expected gets lost in translation.

        And of course, I don't have any evidence. That is par for the course in slashdot. Announcements like this is a typical way to authenticate the official bribe t

  • by suck_burners_rice (1258684) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:25AM (#23839735)
    In other words, China is jumping on the bandwagon of countries that is playing the "Sue Microsoft Lottery" to get some extra cash. I mean, I don't like Microsoft's products, particularly their operating systems, because I think they've completely lost touch with what a computer is supposed to do, but when it comes down to it, it's our fault, not Microsoft's, that their junk software is so ingrained in the entire computing industry. We are the ones who vote with our dollars, and so, if you don't like Microsoft, or their software doesn't get the job done for you, then don't pay them your money. But don't wine and complain about them either. And certainly don't play the Microsoft lottery. That's ridiculous.
    • by BlueParrot (965239) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:29AM (#23839827)
      I have an alternative interpretation.

      If you don't like the rules in the country you try to do business in, then don't do business there, and don't whine when their courts fine you for breaking them. Or perhaps this issue is a little bit more complex than a one sentence argument?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Hassman (320786)
        But when the country is China? Come on. China! Like ANYONE or ANY company could get a fair trial there. There are no human rights, what makes you think that large non-govt. corporations will have any?
      • by adavies42 (746183)

        If you don't like the rules in the country you try to do business in, then don't do business there, and don't whine when their courts fine you for breaking them.
        There are definitely times I wish Microsoft would just shrug [wikipedia.org]. Of course, that would require that Gates (or Ballmer or whoever) have some actual moral integrity....
    • But don't wine and complain about them either. And certainly don't play the Microsoft lottery. That's ridiculous.

      I know you meant whine, not wine and I am not a typo nazi either. But in this instance to wine is a perfectly decent response to the complaint. To wine means use wine to move your critical MS-win based exe files to Linux and stop the upgrade treadmill.

      • Why would you want to stop upgrading your software? Usually newer versions of software are better then previous versions of software. Maybe you meant to say stop paying for upgrades?

        My box is in perpetual upgrade. The xorg-x11-Xnest package can't install right and so I always have 1 available update in my tray.
    • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:33AM (#23839913)
      You clearly dont have a clue about anti-competitive practices of Microsoft and how monopolies & cartels stop market forces working, meaning that "We are the ones who vote with our dollars, and so, if you don't like Microsoft, or their software doesn't get the job done for you, then don't pay them your money." doesn't really apply when there is no other option.
      • by wattrlz (1162603)

        I don't know... does the great firewall block openoffice.org ?

        • "I don't know... does the great firewall block openoffice.org ? "

          Does openoffice.org offer a localized Chinese (or other non-english) language version(s) (I'm honestly asking)? If not, this may be a limiting factor for adoption in foreign language markets.
      • by zappepcs (820751)
        Clearly, there are a LOT of people that believe there is far too much software piracy going on in China. I'm not qualified to argue, but it occurs to me that if there is, nothing is lost if you try selling your product at a reasonable price rather than one that inspires piracy. If you make only 35% of what you wanted to make, but your end up with 85% less piracy, don't you actually increase profits? Sure, I made those numbers up because MS has never tried it so there is no effective examples to cite.

        Point i
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Maxo-Texas (864189)
          This is lost.

          If they show that they can sell Windows for a profit at $20 a copy in China, it's the beginning of the end for charging $300 a copy elsewhere. The fact is that an extra copy at $1 is profitable for them.

          So they want to sell all the $300 copies, then all the $200 copies, then all the ... $20 copies. To maximize their profits. So they have to manage perceptions. Folks are already balking at their quality/prices.
    • by King_TJ (85913)
      Essentially, you're correct, but I think the motivation is closer to what another previous poster stated. China is trying to ensure they're in the best possible position, if they're going to be pushed "up against the wall" by other nations like the U.S.A. to enforce copyright law.

      In countries like ours, sure, most people "pirate" a few things here and there without a lot of guilt. But if you asked the average American citizen if doing so was "wrong" or not, they'd TYPICALLY categorize it as "wrong" - with
    • In other words, China is jumping on the bandwagon of countries that is playing the "Sue Microsoft Lottery" to get some extra cash.

      And I say, good for them. Microsoft has a decades-long history of lying, cheating, stealing, and generally screwing over the rest of the world in order to rake megabucks into their war chest. Therefore I have absolutely no sympathy when someone else screws them. If they want to play dirty then let the rest of the world play dirty against them. I hope the whole world has their

      • If they want to play dirty then let the rest of the world play dirty against them. I hope the whole world has their chance to sue Microsoft for no good reason.

        Yeah, because two wrongs clearly make a right.

        Doing wrong even to those who do wrong to you always comes back around. Not because any sense of karma or universal justice, but because nothing in the world happens in a vacuum, and there are always consequences.
    • by Foofoobar (318279)
      In this case I'd have to agree. Not a big Microsoft fan but China has never been one to really enforce anti-piracy. So now they want their cake and to eat it too? Come on. That's like telling the landlord to turn back on the heat or else your going to not pay him rent again next month.
  • No they criticize China because you are a bunch of pirating communist scum. As to price manipulation being a bad thing... from a communist country that has practiced both price controls and currency manipulation. Not to mention the closed market.... This is just a chance for China to shake MS down.
  • by fprintf (82740) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:25AM (#23839745) Journal
    So there is an anti-trust investigation over the one legitimate copy of Windows in China?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In other news Microsoft is seeking an injunction against the FOSS community for unfair competition practices. "It is entirely unfair that they offer their software at such unreasonable prices. The pricing policy of not charging users for the applications they use severely impacts our market penetration.", a Microsoft Sales Representative said.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zapakh (1256518)

      In other news Microsoft is seeking an injunction against the FOSS community for unfair competition practices.

      This is an old sentiment. From the Halloween Document [catb.org] of the eponymous date in 1998:

      Linux distributors, such as RedHat, Caldera, and others, are expressly willing to fund full time developers who release all their work to the OSS community. By simultaneously funding these efforts, Red Hat and Caldera are implicitly colluding and believe they'll make more short term revenue by growing the Linux market rather than directly competing with each other.

  • Because we all know that the Communist party knows all about creating Monopolies.
    The real question is what do they really want?
  • In Communist China, Microsoft probes YOU!
  • In Other News... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TheBoll (300428)
    ... car makers bundling radios, gps, air bags and brakes within vehicles. More at 11.

    • by aralin (107264)
      If your post read: "The maker of all cars bundling radios, GPS, Air bags and brakes within vehicles." you might have had something. But it has been some time since Ford enjoyed his monopoly position.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Once again, China is just copying other countries. I bet their probe will be half the cost, too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:35AM (#23839929)
    Just another step in China's eventual bludgeoning of the American economy. First you openned the door to trade with them. Now they outproduce you, and now they seek to sue your comapnies for wrong dealings while undercutting your prices and pirating the hell out of your goods. A lot of good people saw this coming, and now we just sit back and watch the sad dance play out to its bitter end.
    US trades with China.
    China outproduces USA on material items.
    USA moves to Intellectual Property.
    China ignores IP laws except where it suits them to make money.
    US economy collapses
    China is new global superpower.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JCSoRocks (1142053)
      True that. We survived WWII and came out on top because of our ridiculous manufacturing power and natural resources. For years we were helping the world rebuild. Then we decided we were too good for that crap and started outsourcing... Well - what'd we expect? China beat us at our own game. There are 4 times as many Chinese people, the government controls *everything*, and they don't give a crap about trashing the environment in the process of becoming a superpower. How do you compete with that? Oh, I know!
    • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:25PM (#23840773) Homepage
      My, the ignorance is breathtaking. Wishful thinking, at best.

      China is *hugely* inefficient, which is mostly masked by their huge growth. One thing that you have to remember is that the Chinese economy has *never* gone down in living memory. It's all up, up, up since Mao died and the national nightmare ended. This results in things like people opening businesses with no idea what they're doing, and the business succeeds anyway due to runaway demand. I see small shops open and close all the time, and it's the same story - no plan, no strategy, no marketing. It's just 'I'll open the doors and people will flood in.' The Chinese are geniunely shocked when they don't, and can't figure out what they did wrong. Really. Massive inefficiency is a hallmark of a prolonged boom (more annoying facts again - don't worry, I won't include any math) and China has been a boom (14%+ growth) for 30 years.

      The Chinese don't invent new things, which is going to really start hurting in a few years when all their low-cost manufacturing isn't low-cost any more. I see it every day, a lot of people really don't know how to solve problems except for copying someone else, even to the point of investing huge efforts into it. Just think of how much better off China would be if they had developed their own indigenous computer systems instead of just pirating Windows. And no, I have yet to see a single installation of this "Red Flag" linux that someone always spouts off about. China does in fact have IPR laws, and they do work, but you have to actually follow them. Speaking of laws, there is a new anti-monopoly law in effect this year, and it's going to be used by the government as a club to bash foreign enterprises. Of course, Chinese monopolies are safe. Remember, cheating foreigners is patriotic.

      Anyway, that's just my personal experience. Feel free to keep wishing hard for America to fall and China to rise. For further reading, for those of you who made it this far, check here (true today as when it was written) [tsquare.tv] and Danwei [danwei.org] and China Law Blog [chinalawblog.com]. Sorry to inject facts into the fantasy exercise - I realize it's a downer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vitriol+Angst (458300)
      I have to wonder when China sues Boeing for trade secrets. Lot's of short-sighted profiteering. Boeing will have to buy parts soon from China and compete with aerospace technology that they helped develop.

      I'm not a Microsoft fan -- but shouldn't China at least pretend to pay for all the copies they stole BEFORE they complain that Microsoft is a monopoly?

      It's like someone who stole my car calling me up and complaining that I didn't pay the tag license on it so they'd like some money for they penalty they had
  • by damburger (981828) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:39AM (#23839997)
    That just gave me the best chuckle I've had all day
  • by Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:45AM (#23840101)
    Perhaps this is a prelude to the Chinese government looking to do something better with American dollars than have them sitting in US government debt. If the Party were looking to buy out Microsoft, they could really have the rest of the world bent over a barrel, enjoying a tremendous amount of control over anyone that uses MS software.

    Not only that, it finally gives the BSA the power it's looking for - let's hear it for the Chinese military fighting the BSA's battles to defend Microsoft's owners and their IP...
  • oxymoron (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @11:47AM (#23840145)

    China's State Intellectual Property Office
    Now there's an oxymoron if I've seen one
  • by DigitalCrackPipe (626884) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @12:12PM (#23840531)

    cost much more in China than in the U.S.
    What? Prices are much lower in China, since few there can afford the prices charged in the US (consider the cheap version of XP designed for poorer markets). What they mean is that the prices are higher relative to the mean income, which is a completely different statement.
  • China? HA HA! Microsoft? BUHAH HA HAAA! China and Microsoft. This is seriously funny.

    On a slightly more serious note, I think the people attacking Microsoft's "monopoly" position are out of line. Not only are there alternatives, like OS X, but there are FREE alternatives that clearly produce similar results, like the many flavors of Linux including Ubuntu. Furthermore, Microsoft products don't force you to use more Microsoft products, it's just generally more efficient if you do. But that's the case with an
    • "On a slightly more serious note, I think the people attacking Microsoft's "monopoly" position are out of line. Not only are there alternatives, like OS X, but there are FREE alternatives that clearly produce similar results, like the many flavors of Linux including Ubuntu. "

      It's way way more complicated then that for a lot of people, for instance games on windows will have a severe lag time before they are supported under linux, if at all. In many instances OTHER companies products determine what you choo
    • by hany (3601) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @01:04PM (#23841449) Homepage

      Microsoft products don't force you to use more Microsoft products, it's just generally more efficient if you do.

      Well, I tend to disagree.

      Imagine you are responsible for the whole IT infrastructure of some company. The size of the company does not matter. Imagine you choose to deploy say Microsoft Office 2003 or (if you are more oriented or pushed towards smaller costs and/or increased "freedom") even OpenOffice.org .

      Now try to imagine a reaction of a CEO of given company after:

      1. some potential client of the company sends you a document created in Microsoft Office 2007
      2. your coworkers (sales, engineering, ...) failed to open the document or failed to open it properly thus creating some problem
      3. thanks to that problem client takes the business elsewhere and your company looses revenue
      4. you tell to CEO: "we did not lost income, we are just slighly less efficient"

      To add more spice, imagine that client was a big one and potential income (and thus real loses) are quite big.

      :)

      All that thanks to inability or whatever of Microsoft to use and follow open standards or at least some decent backward compatibility and our quite small ability to push them toward that (thanks in quite big proportion to what some people call "dominant position in the OS market for PC" or, more importantly "dominant position in the office document format market for document exchange" which stems from the firts one), which would ussualy make the above example non issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    But just like with the EU, this is will be nothing more than an attempt to extort money from successful American corporations. I know /. hates MS, but any sincere customer centric resolution to anti-trust *outside* of the corpration's home country would be done diplomatically with that countries government.
  • The axis of evil calls your business model evil.
  • "Whooooaaaaaaa.....China Probe."
  • Any doubts China is going to win this lawsuit...
  • No it doesn't...

    It is hard to compare directly, but let's try.

    Vista Home Premium (it has media center functionality): In China (according to Microsoft), 899 yuan ( http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/tech-news/?p=953 [com.com] )

    In USA: 239.95 usd ( http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/editions/homepremium/default.mspx [microsoft.com] ).

    Asking google for the conversion:

    899 Chinese yuan = 130.628296 U.S. dollars

    So, a product produced in the US costs 1/2 in a foreign country. Am I allowed to now purchase Chinese product
  • Boy... (Score:3, Funny)

    by TrebleJunkie (208060) <ezahurakNO@SPAMatlanticbb.net> on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @01:29PM (#23841835) Homepage Journal
    ...if this isn't the hammer calling the sickle black.
  • by dindi (78034) on Wednesday June 18, 2008 @06:39PM (#23846699) Homepage
    That should stand on all software boxes.
    If they bundle whatever with windows, it is their business, and the whole EU suing is a ridicule.

    Am I a MS fanboy? Not. I do not use Windows (I have one machine with it that I turn on once a month or less for testing software).

    Up to2 weeks ago, the only MS product I used was an xbox 360, which naturally died, and was my last ever MS product I purchased. (I love my new PS3 though, so thanks MS to open my eyes).

    Yes, for servers it is Linux and BSD, and MAC on desktop.

    So No. I do not like, or protect MS, but they should price their product as they like, and they should bundle it with whatever they want.

    How comes no one says : hey you have MSN messenger in xbox, and so you are damaging google and AOL( AIM), and ICQ.......

    Everyone should have the right to say to a customer : "I hate you, and now your price is 100, even though your neighbour's price is 40."

    It is like I sue BMW for having an mp3 player bundled with my car, which is built in, and is a bit problematic to remove.

    Stupid world, stupid people. Then again, if you do not like it, just buy something else.

    Oh... yes I switched to MAC after Vista came out. One week of usage, and I saw that this was the end of me and MS.

    just my 2c .... you can of course go out, buy it (even if you know it sucks) then complain and sue ....

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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