EU set to probe Microsoft over bundling Teams with Office

Rival Slack cries foul as Microsoft uses its market dominance to drive out competition. But tangling with EU regulators has cost Microsoft $2bn in recent fines

The EU is set to formally investigate Microsoft over claims it unfairly bundles Teams videoconferencing with its Office software, stymying competition.

This is despite Microsoft already offering to unbundle Teams from Office 365 throughout Europe, according to the Financial Times. Another proposal was to charge different prices for Office with or without Teams.

The European Commission however wants Microsoft to go further and unbundle Teams from Office 365 worldwide. A formal probe is set to open next week, with Microsoft being formally charged as early as the autumn, says the newspaper.

Microsoft to stop bundling Teams with Office 365US tech giant Microsoft to stop incorporating Teams with Office 365 in bid to head off EU antitrust probe

The US tech giant had hoped the concession would be enough to satisfy EU regulators, following a 2020 complaint to regulators by rival slack.

Microsoft has come off badly tangling EU regulators in the past. They fined the US tech giant €561m in 2013 for reneging on a promise to stop bundling its Internet Explorer browser with its Windows operating system.

In the previous decade, Microsoft has suffered fines worth €2.2 billion ($2.4 billion) for practices breaching EU competition rules.

Ofcom proposes relaying of cloud market regulation to CMAThe Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been asked by Ofcom to take over investigation of the UK cloud market

But even if the Commission does act, many see it as too late: by integrating Teams into Office 365 to date, Microsoft has already established market dominance.

Microsoft Teams, which has 270 million users, is by far the most popular business communication platform, vastly outperforming Slack’s estimated 20 million active users.

The Microsoft videoconferencing app saw a huge uptick in users during the pandemic, rising from 20 million users in November 2019 to 75 million by April 2020, when Slack complained to EU regulators.

Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, a member of the European Parliament, last week put pressure on Europe to launch a probe into Microsoft’s Teams issue: “Three years after the [Slack] complaint was lodged, Microsoft’s dominant position in the market has grown, while the complainant is still waiting for meaningful progress in this case.”

Further reading

How generative AI regulation is shaping up around the worldWith generative AI developments heating up globally, we take a look at the regulation state of play for regions across the world

Avatar photo

Tim Adler

Tim Adler is group editor of Small Business, Growth Business and Information Age. He is a former commissioning editor at the Daily Telegraph, who has written for the Financial Times, The Times and the...