(CTN News) – Antitrust regulators in the European Union have opened an investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of its video and chat application Teams with other Office products on Thursday.
According to the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, these practices may constitute anti-competitive practices.
In over a decade, the EU has not conducted an antitrust investigation into Microsoft.
As a result of Microsoft’s refusal to let customers choose whether or not to include access to Teams in their productivity suites, the Commission is concerned that may gain an advantage in distribution.
According to the EU regulators, this may have limited interoperability between its productivity suites and competing products.
Therefore, the EU is concerned that does not offer customers the option not to purchase Teams as part of the company’s Office 365 subscription service.
Microsoft may be preventing other companies from competing in the workplace messaging and video app market as a result of this action.
As a result of these practices, suppliers of other communication and collaboration tools may not be able to compete with them. This may constitute anticompetitive tying or bundling.
Office 365, formerly known as 365, is a collection of applications geared toward the workplace, including Word and Excel.
Antitrust investigations do not have a self-imposed deadline for completion. It is possible for Microsoft to face a fine of up to 10% of its total global annual revenue if it is found to have breached EU competition rules.
Slack raises concerns
A complaint filed by Teams rival Slack to the EU in 2020 raised concerns about Microsoft’s competitive position on competitive grounds, alleging that the Redmond tech giant had tied Teams illegally to its dominant productivity packages, including Microsoft 365.
The move forced millions of users to install Teams without the ability to remove it, according to Slack, which is owned by Salesforce.
“We respect the work of the European Commission on this case and we take our own responsibilities very seriously,”
A Microsoft spokesperson said.
Cooperation with the Commission will continue, and we remain committed to finding solutions that will address its concerns.”
In 2009, Microsoft was subjected to an EU antitrust investigation concerning its former web browser Internet Explorer.
Due to tie-in of Internet Explorer to its Windows operating system, the EU expressed concern that competition was distorted.
The company offered remedies to the EU, committing to allow Windows users a choice of competing web browsers.
Recently, Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard came under EU scrutiny, with concerns that the deal would distort competition in the console and cloud gaming markets.
The EU approved the deal in May after Microsoft offered remedies in this case.