EU launches antitrust case against Microsoft for favouring Teams

EU launches antitrust case against Microsoft for favouring Teams

Once again, Microsoft is coming under fire for bundling Teams within Office. Although the video call service has now been separated from the 365 suite, the European Union’s antitrust watchdog has opened an antitrust case. The complaint that started the case came from Salesforce subsidiary and Teams competitor Slack in 2020.

There has been communication back and forth between Microsoft and the European Union over Teams for some time. There was a breakthrough in the middle of last year: Microsoft began offering Office bundles without bundling Teams in them. It didn’t stop there, and in April of this year the Teams split was implemented worldwide. In Brussels, those concessions turned out not to be substantial enough.

Unbundling not enough

The complaint from Slack focuses on Microsoft’s unfair promotion of Teams over its alternatives. Because the application has been free in Office 365 since 2017, many users may have simply opted for the videocall app that was already available. As a result, companies such as Slack and Zoom are alleged to have lost countless customers.

Should Microsoft be found guilty, it risks a fine equal to 10 percent of annual sales. However, that is the maximum requirement: it is quite possible that the now implemented unbundling of Teams could mitigate a judgment against Microsoft.

This EU decision, by the way, comes as no surprise. Back in September, it appeared that Microsoft’s concessions were insufficient to keep the EU from investigating.

Repeat of two decades ago?

Reuters today listed the decades-long tussle between Microsoft and the European Union/Commission. In its coverage, it cites that a similar case against Microsoft was ruled against back in 2004. Back then, the case involved the illegal integration of Windows Media Player within its own operating system. There, too, competitors allegedly lost out on potential users by favoring Microsoft’s own software. It cost Microsoft 497 million euros, at that time a record amount for EU fines. This was later increased as the company still failed to comply with antitrust requirements years after the ruling.

Also read: Zoom is more than a video conferencing tool and is eager to show that to the world