Microsoft Under EU Investigation on Possible Breach Of Competition Rules Over Teams After Slack Complaint

The European Commission has opened a formal investigation to examine whether Microsoft may have breached EU competition rules by tying or bundling its communication and collaboration product Teams to its popular suites for businesses Office 365 and Microsoft 365.

The investigation stems from a 2020 complaint submitted by Slack Technologies, which operates instant messaging program Slack, alleging that Microsoft illegally tied Teams to its dominant productivity suites.

Microsoft includes Teams in cloud-based productivity suites for business customers – Office 365 and Microsoft 365.

“The commission is concerned that Microsoft may be abusing and defending its market position in productivity software by restricting competition in the European Economic Area for communication and collaboration products. In particular, the commission is concerned that Microsoft may grant Teams a distribution advantage by not giving customers the choice on whether or not to include access to that product when they subscribe to their productivity suites and may have limited the interoperability between its productivity suites and competing offerings. These practices may constitute anti-competitive tying or bundling and prevent suppliers of other communication and collaboration tools from competing, to the detriment of customers in the European Economic Area,” the commission said.

If proven, Microsoft may be in breach of EU competition rules, which prohibit the abuse of a dominant position under Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The commission will carry out its in-depth investigation “as a matter of priority,” the commission said.

“Remote communication and collaboration tools like Teams have become indispensable for many businesses in Europe. We must therefore ensure that the markets for these products remain competitive, and companies are free to choose the products that best meet their needs. This is why we are investigating whether Microsoft’s tying of its productivity suites with Teams may be in breach of EU competition rules,” said Margrethe Vestager, the commission’s executive VP in charge of competition policy.

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