Microsoft a Winner in China Internet Gang War?

The public battle between Chinese Internet giant Tencent and antivirus software company Qihoo 360, referred to by some as “small gang” (Qihoo 360) vs. “mafia” (Tencent), has led to a spike in new users for other firms, including one of Tencent’s chief rivals, Microsoft.

New user signups in China for Microsoft’s MSN Messenger, a competitor to Tencent’s leading QQ instant-messaging service, have gone “from tens of thousands normally to millions” per day since a flare-up between the two Chinese companies began, a person familiar with the situation said.

The conflict, which appears to have ignited two months ago when antivirus software company Qihoo 360 alleged that Tencent’s QQ was scanning the private data of its users and released software claiming to block plug-ins that could cause such privacy leaks. Tencent denied the allegations, then discontinued its services to QQ users who were also using Qihoo 360’s software. Qihoo 360 responded by encouraging users to discontinue use of QQ.

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