Microsoft’s Tokyo Offices Raided

Microsoft (MS) received a visit from fifteen members of Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) at 9am Tokyo time. The FTC are looking for evidence of unfair and monopolistic practices in the company’s dealings with PC suppliers in Japan. It’s actually their second visit – the FTC last knocked on MS’s doors in 1998, when they confiscated documents relating to their OS range, browser and office suite.

This second raid isn’t too surprising – over the months Microsoft has had the same thing happen in the US and Europe, and its operating system and software bundling deals with PC hardware manufacturers have long been regarded as anti-competitive in Japan. After a slow start, the country is now the third largest market for PCs in the world, with annual sales of about 13m units.

In Europe, Microsoft could face millions of Euros in fines in March when it reaches an agreement with officials over the way that Windows Media Player is tied to its range of operating systems. Microsoft claims its legal bills for such cases came to US$1.55bn in 2003, though the recent US Department if Justice settlement is regarded as ineffective by many in the industry.

The BBC on the Raid

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?