Microsoft unaware of reported China investigation

China's reported probe follows a series of antitrust actions against Microsoft in South Korea, Europe, and the U.S.

Microsoft said it is unaware of an investigation into whether the company unfairly dominates China's software market as reported by the country's state media on Wednesday.

"Microsoft is unaware of any investigation but is always willing to work with and cooperate with the Chinese government," said a company spokesman based in Singapore.

A working committee of China's State Intellectual Property Office is investigating whether Microsoft engaged in discriminatory pricing, according to Xinhua Financial News, citing the state-owned Shanghai Securities News. A source told Shanghai Securities News that SIPO may bring an antitrust lawsuit once the country's antimonopoly laws are enacted in August, Xinhua said.

The committee will also look at Microsoft's practice of bundling other software programs within its Windows operating system, the report said.

If accurate, China's probe follows a series of antitrust actions against Microsoft in South KoreaEurope, and the U.S. 

In 2005, the Korea Fair Trade Commission fined Microsoft 33 billion Korean won ($32 million). The agency ordered Microsoft to offer two versions of its Windows XP operating system in the country, one without Windows Media Player and Windows Messenger and another with links to Web sites offering rival software. Microsoft dropped its subsequent appeal.

The European Commission fined Microsoft €497 million ($770 million) in 2004 for breaching antitrust regulations. In that case, Microsoft was ordered to sell a version of its operating system without its Windows Media Player and also detail interoperability information for its Windows workgroup servers.

The Commission started another investigation in January after receiving other complaints against Microsoft. The European Committee for Interoperable Systems, a Brussels-based trade group, lodged a complaint over the interoperability of Windows with other software. Browser maker Opera Software also filed a complaint about Microsoft's inclusion of Internet Explorer with Windows.

In the U.S., the Department of Justice is still keeping tabs on Microsoft six years after a 2002 settlement. Microsoft is still producing technical documentation that will help competitors create more compatible products.

(Dan Nysted in Taipei contributed to this report.)