updated 04:13 pm EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Visit tied to investigation, Microsoft states that it will cooperate with officials
Officials from the China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) showed up at four Microsoft offices in the country unannounced earlier today. Offices in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai received the sudden visits, that could be tied to the start of an antitrust investigation for a presently-unknown reason. The visits come at a time when Microsoft faces scrutiny in the country, over spying allegations and government refusal of Windows 8.
China's AIC is responsible for supervision and regulation of business-related laws within the country, placing a focus on fair practices and protecting consumers. The entity is responsible for maintaining market order, as well as enforcing protections against monopolies, or actions that would otherwise hinder competition.
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft did little to shed light on the probe. The statement confirmed that the company is under an investigation, but it provided no information on why the Chinese government would be looking into the software company.
"We aim to build products that deliver the features, security and reliability customers expect," said Microsoft. "We will actively cooperate with the government department's investigation, and answer related questions."
No official declaration of an investigation on has been announced by the government, but it's possible that the visits could be tied to the beginning of an inquiry. Reuters states that a source with close ties to the company indicated that the sudden visits on the offices "were most likely the preliminary stage of an antitrust investigation." Reuters adds that the AIC declined to comment on the visits.
Microsoft has faced recent trouble in the country, under allegations of aiding the United States government in spying, as indicated by documents released by Edward Snowden. State media also called into question the security of Windows 8 after it was accused of stealing personal data. The central government also banned the installation of Windows 8 or otherwise purchasing machines with the operation system pre-installed.