In January this year, it was reported that the European Union could launch an antitrust investigation against Microsoft over Teams, its collaboration and communication platform.
The allegation centers on Microsoft unfairly incorporating the Teams app into its widely used Office suite.
Microsoft will stop including Teams in Office to avoid antitrust investigation by the European Union
The Financial Times reported that Microsoft will stop including Teams with Office to avoid the EU antitrust investigation. With this change, companies will be able to install the Office suite with or without Teams depending on their preference. It is not yet clear whether Microsoft’s proposed change to the inclusion of Teams will be enough to satisfy the concerns of the European Commission.
In conversation with the aforementioned medium, Microsoft responded: «We are aware of our responsibilities in the EU as a major technology company. We continue to work cooperatively with the Commission in their investigation and are open to pragmatic solutions that address their concerns and serve customers well.”.
Observations about the business model of Microsoft applications go back to the time when its popularity exploded, due to complaints from its direct competition. “We are confident that we will win based on the merits of our product, but we cannot ignore illegal behavior that deprives customers of access to the tools and solutions they want”said Jonathan Prince, Slack’s vice president of communications and policy when they filed the complaint against Microsoft in 2020. “Slack threatens Microsoft’s dominance in enterprise email, the cornerstone of Office, which means Slack threatens Microsoft’s control over enterprise software”he added.
“Slack just wants fair competition and a level playing field. Healthy competition drives innovation and creates the best products and the greatest choice for customers. Competition and antitrust laws are designed to ensure that dominant companies cannot illegally exclude competition. We call on the EU to be a neutral arbiter, examine the facts and enforce the law.”said David Schellhase, Slack’s General Counsel, regarding the same allegation.
The inclusion of Teams with Office allowed Microsoft to gain a large number of users, as Teams became the main means of communication for companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. This strategy was criticized and Slack filed a complaint in the EU, claiming that Microsoft was abusing its dominant position in the market. Slack’s complaint centered on the fact that the inclusion of Teams with Office was forcing users to adopt Teams, limiting choice and competition in the marketplace.
The removal of Teams from the basic version of Office will allow users to freely choose whether or not to use Teams. This can be seen as a solution to address the concerns of Slack and other rival companies seeking fair competition.
The EU antitrust investigation against Microsoft is still ongoing and the company has expressed its commitment to cooperate with the Commission during the process. Further changes from Microsoft may be required to resolve the EU concerns.