Microsoft hasn’t been having a good year. First their Windows 8.1 operating system failed to attract a large number of users, then the company, due to high costs was forced to retrench over 18000 staff, mostly from Nokia. Now it seems, the company is once again in trouble, although this time not through any fault of their own.
The company is now under investigation in China for “monopoly” behaviour, with four of its offices, in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu being raiding by Chinese police. Microsoft confirmed that they were under investigation by Chinese authorities and explained in a statement: "We aim to build products that deliver the features, security and reliability customers expect, and we will address any concerns the government may have”.
Chinese government officials have complained that Microsoft currently controls 95% of the computer operating system market within the country. While most of these users continue to use the outdated Windows XP software, Chinese media has lambasted the most recent iteration, Windows 8, for the vast amount of user data it allegedly tracks. Accompanying this, government offices have been given an official order to abandon the use of Windows 8 in new computer purchases.
The Chinese government fears that these tech companies are potentially infiltrated by the NSA.
The move comes in the wake of recent tensions between China and Western tech companies in general. The Chinese government fears that these tech companies and their software are potentially infiltrated by US intelligence agencies. These fears are backed up by the revelations of Edward Snowden, which appeared to show that the NSA regularly installed additional surveillance components inside US tech products.
It also comes as part of a wider crackdown by the Chinese government on the somewhat dodgy dealings of Western firms in China. Major drug manufacturer GSK was alleged to be bribing doctors, while just this week, McDonalds main Chinese meat supplier was found to be selling tainted meat. While these companies were obviously in the wrong, it is also evident that the government is going after the low hanging fruit in order to improve its public image, rather than pursuing equally corrupt, but politically well-connected, state run enterprises.
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