Report: EU preparing to launch antitrust investigation into Microsoft over Teams


The European Union is preparing to launch an antitrust probe into Microsoft Corp. over its Teams video conferencing and messaging service, Politico reported today.

Sources familiar with the matter told Politico that the EU plans to “escalate the probe quickly.” As part of the initiative, antitrust officials reportedly intend to issue a statement of objections to Microsoft. A statement of objections is a document outlining business practices that regulators believe to be anticompetitive.

According to today’s report, the antitrust probe will build on a complaint that was filed by Slack Technologies LLC in June 2020. The complaint took issue with the fact that Microsoft includes Teams in its Microsoft 365 productivity suite, which was until recently known as Office. Slack argues that this practice amounts to anticompetitive behavior.

In particular, Slack charges that Microsoft is using its productivity suite’s dominant market position to give Teams an unfair edge over rivals. Moreover, the Salesforce Inc. unit argues that Microsoft makes it unnecessarily difficult for users to uninstall Teams and hides the application’s true cost from enterprise customers. 

When Slack filed the complaint in 2020, it stated that Microsoft’s business practices are a “carbon copy of their illegal behavior during the browser wars.” During the early days of the internet, Microsoft bundled its Internet Explorer browser with Windows. Microsoft’s practices in the browser market were the focus of a high-profile antitrust case that ended with a settlement.

According to today’s report, EU officials have asked some Microsoft rivals and customers to provide evidence for the forthcoming antitrust probe. A spokesperson for the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, said in a statement that the “assessment of the complaint is ongoing.” It’s unclear exactly when the probe could be launched.

The development comes amid an EU probe into Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. for $68.7 billion. If approved, the deal would make Microsoft the third-largest video game by revenue. Reuters recently reported that the EU could file a statement of objections over the deal within a few weeks.

Last month, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued to block Microsoft from buying Activision Blizzard. The FTC charges that the deal would enable Microsoft to gain an unfair edge in the video game console and game streaming markets. 

The deal has also drawn scrutiny from the U.K.’s competition regulator. The Competition and Markets Authority, or CMA, began studying the potential antitrust implications last June. It expanded the investigation in October after determining the deal might hurt competition in the video game industry. 

Photo: Microsoft

Show your support for our mission by joining our Cube Club and Cube Event Community of experts. Join the community that includes Amazon Web Services and CEO Andy Jassy, Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger and many more luminaries and experts.

Source link

Related Articles