updated 12:30 pm EDT, Mon August 18, 2008
MS Faces China Antitrust
Microsoft could face antitrust action in China based on a new law, according to claims made by a local firm on Monday. Software firm Evermore's chief executive Gus Tsao says that a new measure against monopolistic behavior passed on Friday would potentially allow firms to accuse Microsoft of abusing its position by tightly integrating Office with Windows, preventing Evermore's upcoming EIOffice 2009 and other competing office suites from offering a similar level of features.
There is no immediate action planned, Tsao cautions, though Evermore may take its own action if it can collect enough evidence to mount a case against Microsoft's behavior.
Microsoft has already been accused of excessive pricing in the country and triggered government investigations into its insistence on Western-style pricing despite the lower average income in mainland China. Office in many cases is priced at $574 or higher, frequently rising above the prices of the PCs themselves and well above the $175 Evermore plans to charge for its own suite. Microsoft is effectively driving customers towards China's well-known piracy as a result, according to Tsao.
The American developer has so far only made gestures towards lowering the cost of Windows in the country, offering it in a very low-cost bundle for schools as well as reducing the prices to be more competitive. Microsoft is known to be concerned about the spread of Linux in the region, which has at times endorsed the open-source operating system and sometimes uses it for budget PCs where Windows would significantly inflate the price.
Microsoft hasn't commented on the latest report.