The EU questions Microsoft competitors about bundling Teams in Office

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EU antitrust watchdogs are following up on a complaint made by Slack Technologies, claiming that Microsoft’s Teams (a Slack rival) which Redmond integrated with its Office product gives it greater power in the concerned market.

Reuters saw a questionnaire sent to rivals by the European Commission, focusing on the period 2016 to 2021. Microsoft introduced Teams in early 2017 to compete with Slack and other competitors in the collaboration segment.

Slack, acquired by Salesforce in July, took the complaint about Microsoft’s Teams to the Commission in 2020.

Bundling/tying

Microsoft has been handed about 2.2 billion euros in EU fines for cases involving ‘tying’ and other practices. There has been no comment from the company about the development at the time of writing this.

Slack says that tying or bundling Teams with Office is illegal and urged the EU competition regulators to separate them.

It added that Microsoft preinstalls Teams in a way that is difficult to uninstall and that it further refused to provide information that would allow rival products to work with Office and Teams. All the allegations prompted the Commission to ask if bundled products give companies that own them dibs to data that may increase their market power in both markets.

What the Commission wants to know

A system that offers the advantages alleged could make it harder for rivals to compete. The Commission also asked about barriers to entry or expansion in the workplace apps market, the importance of protecting user data, and switching costs for users. 

The Commission also wants a list of customers who have switched to Microsoft Teams or its bundles Office, the % of revenue lost because of the switch, and the impact of the integrated products on their investments in innovation, as well as the quality and price of their products.

It remains to be seen how this will shake out.