The European Commission has launched an official antitrust investigation against Microsoft to find out whether the tech giant breached EU competition rules when it bundled its Teams software with its Office productivity suite.
“Remote communication and collaboration tools like Teams have become indispensable for many businesses in Europe,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president in charge of competition policy at the European Commission.
“We must therefore ensure that the markets for these products remain competitive, and companies are free to choose the products that best meet their needs. This is why we are investigating whether Microsoft’s tying of its productivity suites with Teams may be in breach of EU competition rules,” she added.
The investigation stems from a 2020 complaint by Salesforces’s messaging app, Slack, that accused Microsoft of illegally tying the Teams video conferencing tool to Office, forcing millions to install it and blocking its removal during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when most businesses turned to remote working.
Although Microsoft reportedly offered to stop bundling Teams with Office, insiders have said that regulators and the tech giant couldn’t agree on whether it was enough to ensure fair competition, leading to the formal investigation.
In a statement to The Verge, the tech giant said that they respect the Commission’s work and asserted that they take their responsibilities seriously.
“We will continue to cooperate with the Commission and remain committed to finding solutions that will address its concerns,” said Microsoft spokesperson Robin Koch.
The antitrust investigation is the first against Microsoft in the EU in over a decade. In 2009, the EU looked into the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, while in 2004, the Commission ordered the tech giant to offer a version of Windows that did not include Media Player.