Microsoft facing Chinese antitrust probe over Media Player & IE distribution

Internet Explorer

Microsoft is facing the prospect of a fresh antitrust probe in China over the way it distributes its Media Player and Internet Explorer software.

News of the investigation was confirmed by Chinese state officials earlier today, who also revealed the way in which the software giant sells its Windows and Office offerings will be looked into as well.

It is thought to be the ninth antitrust investigation the Chinese government has opened this year, which have involved players from the software, tobacco, telecommunications, insurance, tourism and utilities markets.

Zhang Mao, chief of China's state administration for Industry and Commerce, said in a briefing attended by the Wall Street Journal: "Microsoft is suspected of incomplete disclosure of information related to Windows and Office software, as well as problems in distribution and sales of its media player and browser."

At the time of writing, Microsoft hadn't released an official comment about the investigation, but has previously stated in similar situations that it would fully cooperate with proceedings.

"It is still too early to say what the results of the investigation will be," said Zhang. "But no matter what, companies must obey Chinese laws."

The investigation follows on from a series of inspections at Microsoft offices in China. This resulted in the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in China confirming last month the vendor was being investigated over allegations it was monopolising the software market.

This case centred on the firm's alleged "anti-competitive" distribution of Office and Windows.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.