EU Set to Launch Antitrust Probe into Microsoft’s Office and Teams Bundle: Sources Reveal!

On the evening of July 17th, it was reported that several individuals familiar with the situation said that the European Union will initiate a formal antitrust investigation into the Teams application packaged with Microsoft Office next week.

This investigation will be focused on Microsoft’s alleged monopolistic behavior. Four sources familiar with the matter stated that although Microsoft made some concessions to alleviate concerns about competition, these turned out to be insufficient. If the investigation begins, Microsoft could face formal charges from the EU as early as this autumn, according to two of the sources.

As early as July 2020, Slack Technologies filed a complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission, accusing Microsoft of engaging in unfair competition.

Slack claims that Microsoft has abused its market dominance by including Microsoft Teams with its popular Office productivity software, thereby eliminating competition from its own similar product.

Microsoft Teams is a chat-based intelligent team collaboration tool that enables simultaneous document sharing and provides instant messaging tools including voice and video conferencing to its members. Slack Technologies operates a product that is similar.

Microsoft’s bundling of Microsoft Teams with Office means that millions of users are compelled to install Microsoft Teams and cannot remove it. Following this, the EU sent a questionnaire to Microsoft’s rivals asking if the bundling of Microsoft Teams and Office would give Microsoft greater influence.

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Analysts said today that the European Commission’s decision to initiate a formal antitrust investigation against Microsoft highlights the EU’s determination to crack down on anti-competitive behavior by large technology companies.

Previously, Apple, Google, and Meta have all been investigated for alleged anti-competitive behavior. In April, it was reported that Microsoft would cease forcing its customers to automatically install Teams on their devices.

However, sources familiar with the matter revealed that negotiations between the European Commission and Microsoft have stalled because the concessions made by Microsoft were not sufficient.

Additionally, the two sides also disagree on the pricing of Teams. Sources familiar with the matter also said that the current negotiations between the two parties are mainly focused on “how Microsoft can avoid being formally investigated,”

but the reality is that the investigation seems inevitable.

Microsoft stated,

“We will continue to work with the European Commission and remain open to pragmatic solutions to address the EU’s concerns and better serve customers.”

The EU stated,

“The evaluation of this complaint is ongoing.”

Over the past decade, Microsoft has been fined 2.2 billion euros (USD 2.6 billion) by the European Union for practices such as bundling.

In addition to Slack Technologies, other companies offering applications similar to Microsoft Teams include Zoom Video Communications, Google, Meta, and Cisco.  

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EU Set to Launch Antitrust Probe into Microsoft’s Office and Teams Bundle: Sources Reveal!

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