EU accuses Microsoft of antitrust violations for bundling Teams with Office software

The European Union has accused Microsoft of violating antitrust rules by bundling its Teams messaging and videoconferencing app with its widely used business software, such as Office 365 and Microsoft 365. The European Commission announced on Monday that this practice may have restricted competition by not allowing customers to choose whether to include Teams when purchasing the software. This, they argue, gave Teams an unfair distribution advantage and potentially limited the functionality of rival messaging apps with Microsoft software.

Margrethe Vestager, the Commission’s executive vice-president for competition policy, expressed concerns that Microsoft’s bundling of Teams could stifle competition and innovation in the remote communication and collaboration market. This regulatory action follows the Commission’s recent accusation against Apple for breaching digital competition rules, underscoring Brussels’ strong stance as a tech industry watchdog.

Despite Microsoft’s efforts last year to address these concerns by offering European customers software packages without Teams, the Commission deemed these measures insufficient. Microsoft President Brad Smith stated the company’s willingness to work with the Commission to resolve the remaining issues. Additionally, in April, Microsoft began offering Office 365 and Microsoft 365 without Teams globally.

The Commission’s investigation, launched in July 2023 following complaints from Slack Technologies and Alfaview, could lead to Microsoft facing a fine of up to 10% of its annual global revenue or being required to implement further remedies. Slack, owned by Salesforce, accused Microsoft of market dominance abuse, a claim now supported by the Commission’s preliminary findings. Salesforce President Sabastian Niles hailed the decision as a victory for customer choice and competition, urging swift and effective remedies to ensure a fair digital ecosystem.