European Commission announces Microsoft’s bundling of Teams with M365 anti-competitive

The European Commission has suggested Microsoft of its preliminary glimpse that promoting Microsoft Teams bundled in with its Deliver of commercial 365 suite is anti-competitive

Caroline Donnelly


Published: 25 Jun 2024 17: 20

Microsoft broke European Union (EU) antitrust suggestions by bundling in its cloud-based totally communications and collaboration tool Teams when customers purchased its on-line productivity suite, Deliver of commercial 365.

That is the preliminary glimpse of the European Commission’s (EC) ongoing investigation into the distribution potential of Microsoft Teams, which started in July 2023 in accordance with two separate complaints from communication tool companies, Slack and Alfaview.

The EC acknowledged it has made Microsoft attentive to its judgment, which comes eight months after the tool big launched plans in October 2023 to unbundle Teams from its Microsoft 365 and Deliver of commercial 365 suites when offered within the European Financial Deliver (EEA) and Switzerland.

Microsoft acknowledged at the time of the circulate that it hoped promoting the merchandise one by one would permit its customers to spend its Deliver of commercial 365 and Microsoft 365 merchandise at a decrease impress level. It also dedicated to doing “extra to accomplish interoperability less complicated between rival communication and collaboration” choices.

As reported by Computer Weekly, Microsoft stopped promoting Teams as a bundle with Microsoft 365 and Deliver of commercial 365 worldwide in April 2024.

Alternatively, the EC acknowledged the preliminary findings of its investigation disclose this exchange in lumber-to-market arrangement for Teams is “insufficient to tackle its issues” and “extra adjustments to Microsoft’s habits are essential to revive rivals”.  

In an announcement asserting its preliminary findings, the Commission acknowledged its investigation presentations that Microsoft dominates the worldwide marketplace for commercial-centered tool-as-a-service (SaaS) productivity gains, and that bundling Teams with Deliver of commercial 365 modified into an anti-competitive circulate.

“The Commission is nervous that, since at the very least April 2019, Microsoft has been tying Teams with its core SaaS productivity gains, thereby restricting rivals on the marketplace for communication and collaboration merchandise,” it acknowledged.

“Particularly, the Commission is nervous that Microsoft would possibly well own granted Teams a distribution advantage by now not giving customers the different whether or now not or to now not present entry to Teams after they subscribe to [its] SaaS productivity gains.”

It persisted: “This advantage would possibly well own been additional exacerbated by interoperability boundaries between Teams’ rivals and Microsoft’s choices. The habits would possibly well own prevented Teams’ rivals from competing, and in flip innovation, to the detriment of customers within the European Financial Deliver.”

In an announcement to Computer Weekly, Brad Smith, vice-chair and president of Microsoft, acknowledged the firm has already taken some actions to tackle the EC’s issues, and must aloof compare for ways to kill extra in light of its findings.

“Having unbundled Teams and taken preliminary interoperability steps, we fancy the additional readability offered at the present time and must aloof work to search out alternate solutions to tackle the Commission’s last issues,” acknowledged Smith.

News of the European Commission’s findings advance sizzling on the heels of the UK’s rivals watchdog, the Competitors and Markets Authority (CMA), publishing the intervening time findings of its own investigation into allegations of anti-competitive behaviour relating to Microsoft’s licensing practices.

Nicky Stewart, customary ICT chief at the UK govt’s Cabinet Deliver of commercial, acknowledged she’s now not bowled over to hear that, no matter its efforts to unbundle Teams from its productivity tool gains, the European Commission aloof has issues in regards to the firm’s behaviour.

“It’s now not sparkling the European Commission aloof has issues … given the ubiquity of Microsoft’s tool gains and the interoperability issues between these and folks of Microsoft’s rivals,” she acknowledged. “Yet again, we own considered Microsoft doing too exiguous, too unimaginative, and right here’s rightly riding the European Commission’s preliminary glimpse.”

She added: “With Microsoft also below scrutiny by the CMA for, amongst varied issues, unfair tool licensing practices, where the CMA will provide a preliminary opinion this coming autumn, it stays to be considered whether or now not Microsoft will undertake a the same tactic right here within the UK and assign a gesture that is truly doing the bare minimum to lead clear of regulatory sanctions.”

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