Microsoft faced an investigation by the European Union due to concerns that the company is crowding out competitors by unfairly bundling Teams with its Office 365 and Microsoft 365 packages, Bloomberg reports.
The European Commission said it had opened a formal investigation into whether Microsoft may have breached EU competition rules. The EU’s antitrust authority said the company’s actions could have given Teams an advantage over competitors by giving customers no choice between alternatives. The company could also limit compatibility with competing software platforms.
Demand for video conferencing has skyrocketed since the Covid-19 pandemic forced many workers to stay at home. But critics say Microsoft could have used its “power” over PC software to make Teams the easiest option for remote workers who already use programs like Word and Excel.
“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,” said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
The new EU investigation comes three years after Salesforce Inc.’s messaging platform Slack filed a complaint with the EU antimonopoly agency. The commission reported that it will first try to determine whether there is a violation of antimonopoly legislation in this situation.
Slack was acquired by Salesforce in 2021 for $27.7 billion. Like many similar companies, it has been hit by a post-pandemic slowdown in technology spending, announcing plans to cut about 10% of its workforce after over the past four years the number has almost tripled.
Microsoft has been battling antitrust regulators in the United States and Europe for years over complaints that it unfairly tied up products and blocked competitors’ access to Windows desktop software. But it has faced no formal check on EU market dominance for a decade.