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Russia may increase oversight of Microsoft

The country is considering whether to add Microsoft to a list of companies with high market share. Microsoft said it is cooperating with the inquiry.

The Russian government is exploring whether Microsoft deserves closer scrutiny under its antitrust laws, specifically whether the software maker should be added to a government-maintained list of companies with high market share.

A copy of the Russian edition of Windows XP Starter Edition. Russia was among the places where Microsoft tested the low-cost version of Windows aimed at first-time PC buyers. Microsoft

Being added to the list itself doesn't mean the company is under investigation, but rather that it must comply with laws governing firms that have a significant market share. Unlike in some regions, Russia starts keeping an eye on companies with even a relatively low share. Anything upwards of about 35 percent share could land a company on the list.

"Russian authorities have opened an inquiry into the PC operating system sector," Microsoft told CNET News in a statement. "We are cooperating fully with their review."

Why the company is just now being considered for the list is unclear.

Russia hasn't been a major regulator of Microsoft in the past. The company has faced scrutiny and oversight in the past in Japan and Korea, in addition to its well-documented battles with regulators in the U.S. and Europe.

Most recently, the E.U. has issued a preliminary finding that Microsoft's inclusion of a browser within Windows violates its antitrust laws. Microsoft has said that the E.U. might force the software maker to distribute other browsers and even disable some Internet Explorer code if a user opts for one of those rivals.