Services & Software

Nadella plans China trip amid antitrust probe -- report

The Microsoft CEO's itinerary has not been disclosed, but the reason for his trip may be to delve a bit deeper into the antitrust investigation in China.


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will visit China next month, according to a report.

Nadella, who took over as Microsoft's chief executive from Steve Ballmer earlier this year, will visit China in late September, Reuters reported Thursday, citing an unnamed person who claims to have knowledge of Nadella's plans. While it's not clear whether the reason for his trip is China's ongoing antitrust probe, it's a possibility.

China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has been investigating Microsoft over the past month on allegations of antitrust violation. The SAIC raided Microsoft's offices twice in the last several weeks in search of information related to the company's Windows and Office software. The SAIC has said it is investigating whether Microsoft's products fall in line with the country's rules on compatibility and document authentication. If they do not, SAIC has said that Microsoft would effectively be forcing Chinese consumers to use more Microsoft products than they might otherwise.

China has long been a thorn in Microsoft's side. For a long time, China was the epicenter of piracy of Windows and Office, with a huge number of consumers there using pirated Microsoft software. Ballmer, who visited China a handful of times in his dozen years as CEO, has said that China's massive userbase generated just a fraction of the company's overall revenue. On the flip side, much smaller countries were generating much more revenue for Microsoft.

The SAIC's actions are the result of an antitrust law put into place in 2008 that allows China's officials to take a deeper dive into companies and discover whether they are engaging in anything outside the norm. Several other companies, including Qualcomm, are also under investigation as part of that law.

Microsoft, of course, is no stranger to antitrust investigations. The company was targeted by both the US and the European Union over the years as a possible monopoly and eventually settled the cases.

For its part, the SAIC has not yet made a formal determination on the Microsoft investigation.

CNET has contacted Microsoft for comment on Nadella's trip. We will update this story when we have more information.