Microsoft is under investigation by the US Justice Department once again, following its recent purchase of a minority stake in Apple and investments in the Internet video streaming arena.
On 6 August, the software giant bought 150,000 non-voting shares in Apple for $150 million and invested another $100 million in cross-licensing of patents and development programmes. According to the 'Wall Street Journal', the DoJ's antitrust officials are examining the agreements to see whether they reduce competition.
The video streaming deals under investigation include Microsoft?s acquisition of VXtreme, its 10 per cent investment in Progressive Networks and its five per cent stake in VDONet.
Four years ago, the Justice Department said it was to keep a watching brief on Microsoft after it came to a settlement with the company over antitrust issues. Their decision is likely to depend on how far the Macintosh operating system is seen as the only real competition to the Windows interface.
According to reports, the video streaming companies have already received subpoenas from the Justice Department asking them to provide information about the nature of their businesses.
But a statement from Microsoft maintained that the video streaming investigation will turn out positively for the company because "competition in the nascent streaming media business is intense". William Neukom, senior vice president for law and corporate affairs, said "Microsoft is seeking to promote compatibility and interoperability among streaming media products from all vendors .. which will further intensify competition." He pointed out that many MS competitors, such as Oracle and IBM, have invested considerable funds in this sector and have announced products.
No-one from Microsoft was prepared to comment on the Apple investigation, however.
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