EU launches investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of Office and Teams

The European Union will investigate Microsoft over its bundling of Office and Teams.

Thursday’s announcement comes amid fears the packaging of productivity software Office with messaging and videoconferencing app Teams gives the tech giant an unfair edge over competitors.

The 27-nation bloc’s top competition enforcer, the European Commission, said it will carry out the probe “as a matter of priority”.

It stems from a complaint filed in 2020 by Slack Technologies, which makes workplace messaging software.

Slack, owned by business software maker Salesforce, accused Microsoft of abusing its market dominance to eliminate competition – in violation of EU laws – by illegally combining Teams and Office.

“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,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust commissioner.

“This is why we are investigating whether Microsoft’s tying of its productivity suites with Teams may be in breach of EU competition rules.”

Opening such an investigation in no way determines the outcome of the inquiry itself, the EU Commission said.

Last week, German videoconferencing company alfaview added its own complaint, saying Microsoft’s bundling gives it an unmatched competitive advantage “that is not justified by performance and that competitors like alfaview cannot match”.

A Microsoft office in Amsterdam
The software giant has been accused by a competitor of abusing its market dominance (Alamy/PA)

The EU has led the way in ratcheting up scrutiny for big tech firms over worries they have become too dominant.

When Brussels has looked into Microsoft’s recent deals, however, the company has prevailed.

The EU approved Microsoft’s plan to buy videogame maker Activision Blizzard for 69 billion US dollars (£53.2 billion) after the company offered to automatically license popular Activision titles like Call Of Duty for cloud gaming platforms.

Microsoft has also won EU clearance to buy videogame company Zenimax and speech recognition company Nuance.

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