Home Microsoft accused of EU antitrust violation by bundling Teams

Microsoft accused of EU antitrust violation by bundling Teams

TL:DR

  • The European Commission accused Microsoft of antitrust violations for bundling Teams with Microsoft 365 and Office 365.
  • Microsoft faces potential sanctions, possibly up to 10% of its global turnover, if found guilty of these antitrust violations.
  • Microsoft has unbundled Teams and is seeking solutions, but the EU regulator believes further action is needed to restore competition.

The European Commission has accused Microsoft of breaking EU antitrust rules by bundling its Teams communication app with its subscription services.

The regulator, which is the executive body of the EU, has indicated on Tuesday (June 25) the action to link Teams to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 back in 2019 was an abuse of market dominance. Users did not have a choice in opting for Teams, with its access included with the regular packages.

After a complaint from rival platform Slack in 2020, the European Commission opened its probe with its initial determination now revealed.

“The European Commission has informed Microsoft of its preliminary view that Microsoft has breached EU antitrust rules by tying its communication and collaboration product Teams to its popular productivity applications included in its suites for businesses Office 365 and Microsoft 365,” said the statement of objections, issued to companies to inform of concerns raised against them.

Microsoft has since offered service without Teams, but the EU regulator believes the changes don’t go far enough, with more action required to restore competition.

Microsoft “will work to find solutions”

The US tech giant was forced to pay $2.4 billion around 20 years ago for similar breaches of EU antitrust rules for tying, or bundling, two or more products together and related offenses. It now faces a further serious sanction, which could be as much as 10% of its global turnover total if the company is found guilty of the latest alleged infringement.

This is another example of how the EU is taking stringent action against what it considers to be ‘gatekeepers’ in Big Tech, including Apple and Microsoft, especially with the introduction of the new Digital Markets Act.

In response, Microsoft President Brad Smith referenced comments made earlier this month about the company’s openness to find a solution to the impasse. On that occasion, he stated, “I expect we will take additional steps. On Teams, we have done a lot of work, (but) our work isn’t yet done.”

“Microsoft is committed to find a resolution to regulators’ concerns,” Smith said.

This was followed up on the back of the preliminary determination delivered by the EU, with a further signal of intent,  “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,” Smith added.
Image credit: Via Ideogram

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Graeme Hanna
Tech Journalist

Graeme Hanna is a full-time, freelance writer with significant experience in online news as well as content writing. Since January 2021, he has contributed as a football and news writer for several mainstream UK titles including The Glasgow Times, Rangers Review, Manchester Evening News, MyLondon, Give Me Sport, and the Belfast News Letter. Graeme has worked across several briefs including news and feature writing in addition to other significant work experience in professional services. Now a contributing news writer at ReadWrite.com, he is involved with pitching relevant content for publication as well as writing engaging tech news stories.

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