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Microsoft breaches antitrust rules with Teams, EU Commission says

The Microsoft logo is pictured outside the headquarters in Paris.
The Microsoft logo is pictured outside the headquarters in Paris. Copyright Thibault Camus/AP Photo
Copyright Thibault Camus/AP Photo
By Cynthia Kroet
Published on Updated
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The tech giant already separated Teams and Office 365 but those efforts are not enough.

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Microsoft has breached the EU’s antitrust rules by tying its videoconferencing platform Teams to its Office 365 and Microsoft 365 products, the European Commission said today (25 June).

Today's preliminary outcome of an investigation started by the Commission in July last year, suggests that the US tech giant is dominant worldwide in the market for software hosted on cloud infrastructure of the supplier's choice (called software as a service or Saas). By connecting Teams to its core software applications since April 2019, the Commission fears that Microsoft has been restricting competition on the market. 

"The Commission is concerned that Microsoft may have granted Teams a distribution advantage by not giving customers the choice whether or not to acquire access to Teams when they subscribe to their SaaS productivity applications," the Commission statement said.

It added that by limiting operability between the offerings of competitors, the company may also have prevented rivals from competing, which could have resulted in customers facing a disadvantage.

Changes

After the Commission opened the probe last year, Microsoft introduced changes in the way it distributes Teams, by separating the two programs. The executive's preliminary findings however show that these changes are not enough to address the concerns, and that more changes to Microsoft's conduct are necessary to restore competition.

A Statement of Objections does not prejudge the outcome of an investigation. The parties concerned can now reply in writing and request an oral hearing to present their comments on the case. 

In a press roundtable in Brussels early June, Brad Smith, Microsoft Vice Chair and President, said he expected that changes made by the company might not be enough. Smith then said that despite much being done to resolve the issue, “it seems apparent that our work is not done yet”. 

In a statement to Euronews today, Smith said: “Having unbundled Teams and taken initial interoperability steps, we appreciate the additional clarity provided today and will work to find solutions to address the Commission‘s remaining concerns.”

The EU executive's antitrust investigation was related to a complaint from the communication platform Slack, now owned by Salesforce, filed in 2020.

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