Report: EU to Launch Antitrust Case Against Microsoft Teams

Politico reports that the European Union is poised to launch an antitrust case against Microsoft for abuses related to Teams. The publication cites multiple sources.

The case is based on a 2020 complaint from Slack, the primary victim of Microsoft’s enormous successes with Teams. According to that complaint, Microsoft has abused its market dominance illegally and in an anti-competitive manner by tying Teams to its “market-dominant” Office productivity suite, “force-installing it for millions, blocking its removal, and hiding the true cost to enterprise customers.”

Slack, by comparison, offers “an open, flexible approach that compounds the threat to Microsoft because it is a gateway to innovative, best-in-class technology that competes with the rest of Microsoft’s stack,” the complaint adds. Of course, Slack was acquired for $27.7 billion by Salesforce in 2021, undercutting those claims dramatically and in the same way that AOL’s acquisition of Netscape undercut a U.S. antitrust against Microsoft in the late 1990s.

I would also point out that Slack calling Teams “a weak, copycat product” is more than a bit of a stretch given how much more functionality that the latter provides than the former. Teams may have started out a Slack-like product in 2017, but by 2020, and certainly today, it is much more feature-rich than that.

Anyway, the EU has reviewed the Slack complaint and will apparently soon announce a statement of objections detailing how Microsoft Teams violates EU antitrust laws. “In recent weeks, [the European Commission has] sent requests to rivals and customers over what evidence it plans to use, [Politico’s sources] said. Such ‘access to file’ requests are often a prelude to sending objections after a formal investigation has been launched.”

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