EU opens antitrust investigation against Microsoft over Office and videoconferencing Teams bundling

BRUSSELS — The European Union announced today that it opened a formal antitrust investigation targeting Microsoft into the software company’s Teams messaging and videoconferencing app over concerns that its bundling with its Office productivity software suites gives it an unfair edge over competitors.

The European Commission, the 27-nation bloc’s top competition enforcer, said that it would carry out its in-depth investigation “as a matter of priority.”

The investigation stems from a complaint filed in 2020 by Slack Technologies, which makes popular workplace messaging software.

Slack, owned by business software maker Salesforce, alleged that Microsoft was abusing its market dominance to eliminate competition — in violation of EU laws — by illegally combining Teams with its Office productivity software suite.

“Remote communication and collaboration tools like Teams have become indispensable for many businesses in Europe. We must therefore ensure that the markets for these products remain competitive,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust commissioner.

“This is why we are investigating whether Microsoft’s tying of its productivity suites with Teams may be in breach of EU competition rules.”

Opening such an investigation in no way determines the outcome of the inquiry itself, the EU Commission said.

And only last week, the German alfaview video conferencing company added its own complaint, arguing that such bundling gives the American Big Tech juggernaut an unmatched competitive advantage “that is not justified by performance and that competitors like alfaview cannot match.”

The EU has led the way in ratcheting up scrutiny for Big Tech companies over worries that they have become too dominant.

When Brussels has looked into Microsoft’s recent deals, however, the company has prevailed.

The EU approved Microsoft’s plan to buy video game maker Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, after the company offered to automatically license popular Activision titles like “Call of Duty” for cloud gaming platforms.

Microsoft also has won EU clearance to buy video game company Zenimax and speech recognition company Nuance.