Microsoft offices in China raided again in antitrust probe

Chinese antitrust regulators also raided the offices of IT firm Accenture, one of the software giant's consulting partners.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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Microsoft's Windows is under fire in China. Rich Brown/CNET

Microsoft has again been raided by Chinese investigators over antitrust concerns.

China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) raided Microsoft offices in Beijing, Liaoning, Hubei, and Fujian, the organization confirmed on its website on Wednesday. Details on the raid, which was earlier reported by Reuters, were not revealed. The SAIC also confirmed that it raided the offices of IT consulting firm Accenture, one of Microsoft's consulting partners in China.

The SAIC declined to provide additional comment on its investigation.

The SAIC has had Microsoft in its sights for weeks. As part of its antitrust investigation, it raided Microsoft offices in China last month. The SAIC claims Microsoft may be violating China's antitrust laws with its Windows and Office software. The antitrust regulator is concerned that Microsoft's products fail to fall in line with the country's rules on compatibility and document authentication, effectively forcing Chinese consumers to use more Microsoft products than they might otherwise.

Microsoft has remained quiet on the SAIC's investigation. In an e-mailed statement to CNET, the company said only that it's "serious about complying with China's laws and committed to addressing SAIC's questions and concerns." It's important to note at this point that the SAIC is merely conducting an investigation and has yet to formally charge Microsoft with anything.

Still, it seems clear that China has its sights set on major American companies. China has already banned the use of Windows 8 for its government computers and previously halted Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage service. In June, China accused Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Cisco System of allegedly helping the US government steal state secrets.

Earlier this week, the SAIC issued a stern warning to Microsoft, saying that it should not in any way try to obstruct its antitrust probe. The comment was believed to be an initial salvo meant to get Microsoft to fall in line with the government's sometimes onerous rules and regulations.

It's unknown when the SAIC might deliver a final evaluation of Microsoft's practices or if more raids are coming.