EU is set to open Microsoft antitrust investigation into its Teams bundling. That said, this will be the first antitrust investigation of Microsoft in the EU for close to 15 years now.
EU Microsoft Antitrust Investigation
The European Commission as you should know is now opening a formal antitrust investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of its own Teams software with its Office productivity suite. Slack in question originally filed an anti-competitive complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission back in July 2020, just a couple of months after a global pandemic started and then the Microsoft Teams userbase began to grow quickly.
The European Commission as you know will now carry out an in-depth investigation into whether Microsoft may have reportedly breached EU competition rules simply by tying or bundling Microsoft Teams to its Office 365 and Microsoft 365 productivity suites.
The European Commission’s Explanation of the Whole New Development
“Remote communication and collaboration tools like Teams have become indispensable for many businesses in Europe,” explains the executive vice president in charge of competition policy at the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager. “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.”
Slacks Original Complaint to the EU
The original complaint of Slack alleged that Microsoft had “illegally tied” its Microsoft Teams product to Office and now is “force installing it for millions, blocking its removal, and hiding the true cost to enterprise customers.” And now EU regulators are fully investigating the situation after Microsoft on its own end reportedly offered a concession to the EU to halt bundling Teams with Office.
This clearly was not enough to dodge an official antitrust investigation as the Financial Times reported recently that both EU regulators and Microsoft could not agree on a decision on whether the removal of bundling would be limited to just the EU and also on how prices might be impacted in a bid to make sure that competition is still fair.
Microsoft to Take Away Its Microsoft Teams Integration in Windows 11
Microsoft also just recently decided to take away its Microsoft Teams integration in Windows 11. The Chat functionality that was reportedly in Windows 11 was only ever available for consumers and not just the key enterprise users that were the main focus of the complaint of Slack. But Microsoft on the other hand could have enabled enterprise support in the near future in this built-in version, and it is very much possible that the EU probe might just have helped spook Microsoft into killing the integration altogether.
This Is the First Time Microsoft Has Faced an Antitrust Investigation in the EU
This is however the first time that Microsoft has faced an antitrust investigation in the EU for up to 15 years, following two big cases that were related to Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer bundling. The European Commission back in 2004 ordered Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without the Media Player bundled. This then resulted in a Windows XP N version that as you should know is available in EU markets.
Other Microsoft EU Investigations
The EU back in 2009 also investigated the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows and Microsoft then ended up selling a Windows 7 E version of its very own operating system in Europe without the Internet Explorer bundled. Microsoft also was forced to reportedly implement a browser ballot box in its very own Windows operating system to make sure that users were presented with a choice of web browsers. Microsoft was at the time eventually fined $730 million for failing to add the browser ballot in Windows 7 SP1.
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