Although there was some competition in the market for online communication tools even before the COVID epidemic, the recent shift to hybrid work trends has caused demand for these services to skyrocket. Despite the fact that many businesses that already use Microsoft’s product line prefer Microsoft Teams, there are still rivals like Slack and Zoom. It now appears that European Union (EU) regulators are likely to dig into Microsoft over various Teams-related antitrust issues.
According to Reuters, the European Commission (EC) intends to probe into Microsoft for alleged anti-competitive actions involving its Teams software.
This investigation is being conducted in response to a complaint made by Slack in 2020, which claimed that bundling Teams with the Microsoft 365 product line forces it to be deployed on numerous devices while “hiding the true cost to enterprise customers.” It pleaded with the watchdog to compel Microsoft to detach Teams from its Microsoft 365 package and sell it for “fair” market rates.
Jonathan Prince, Slack’s vice president of communications and policy, was cited as stating the following at the time:
This is considerably more significant than Slack vs. Microsoft because it represents two very distinct approaches to the future of digital ecosystems, gatekeepers vs. gates. […] Because Slack is a portal to cutting-edge, best-in-class technology that competes with the rest of Microsoft’s stack and gives users the opportunity to create solutions that suit their needs, it increases the danger to Microsoft. They constantly ask for 100% of your budget; we want to be the 2% of your software expenditure that increases the value of the other 98%.
The EC reportedly sent out a fresh set of questions last month, which is a hint that it is considering stepping up its inquiry into Microsoft, the article claims. According to two persons with knowledge of the situation:
- The Commission is now taking a closer look at (Microsoft’s) bundling and compatibility. They are looking for details that will help them identify solutions.
- They are setting the stage for an inquiry.
Microsoft and Slack have had disputes in the past. Microsoft even considered buying Slack for $8 billion at one point, but ultimately decided to build Teams instead. Both businesses have occasionally disparaged one another. While Microsoft noted that “little companies (like Slack) come and go” and that the Redmond tech giant has it all covered, Slack’s CEO once stated that he does not see Teams as a threat.
In any case, Microsoft shouldn’t be involved in yet another antitrust inquiry at this time. Regulators in Europe are already looking at it because of its proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.