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.