Microsoft faces new EU Antitrust allegations for unfairly bundling Teams with Office

The European Union has levied significant antitrust allegations against Microsoft, asserting that the tech giant unlawfully bundled its chat and video application, Teams, with its Office suite, thereby gaining an unfair market edge over competitors like Slack, reported Reuters.

As per the wire agency, this move by the EU competition watchdog came two decades after Microsoft had faced a hefty fine from the EU. The recent actions were instigated by a 2020 complaint from Slack, a workspace messaging app owned by Salesforce.

The European Commission, which serves as the EU’s competition authority, stated that Microsoft had granted Teams a distribution benefit while imposing restrictions that hindered competitors from interacting with Microsoft’s services, further disadvantaging rivals.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager emphasized the importance of maintaining competition in the remote communication and collaboration tools market, noting that such competition drives innovation.

Microsoft, which previously paid $2.4 billion in EU antitrust fines for similar practices of bundling products and other violations, now faces a potential fine amounting to 10 per cent of its global annual revenue if found guilty of these latest accusations.

The Commission indicated that Microsoft’s recent measures were insufficient to allay its concerns and that further changes were needed to reestablish competitive balance.

Insiders revealed that the EU enforcer is urging Microsoft to sell Office without Teams at a lower price, while competitors seek clearer terms for interoperability and more incentives for users to switch to alternative services.

Microsoft President Brad Smith reiterated the company’s commitment to resolving the issue, acknowledging the Commission’s latest directives and expressing willingness to address the remaining concerns.

Salesforce President and Chief Legal Officer Sabastian Niles called for the Commission to implement a swift, binding, and effective solution to ensure free and fair market choices.

German competitor Alfaview, which also lodged complaints, expressed support for the Commission’s charges against Microsoft.

(With inputs from Reuters)

 

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Published: 25 Jun 2024, 10:01 PM IST