Microsoft's China Card

By investing heavily in local software outfits, Microsoft aims to counter piracy and expand its foothold in the Middle Kingdom

China's president Hu Jintao kicked off his recent U.S. visit not by checking in first at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but by meeting Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. The social call may have paid off. On Apr. 26, the Redmond (Wash.)-based software giant announced plans to invest $900 million in Chinese software companies and hardware over the next five years. The aim is to reduce piracy rates and establish Windows as the dominant operating system in the region.

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