EU finds Microsoft violated antitrust laws by bundling Teams

The tech giant could owe 10 percent of its annual worldwide turnover if the charges are confirmed.

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It has been nearly a year since the European Commission opened its investigation into Microsoft and there's finally a preliminary finding. The European Union's executive body announced its "view" that the tech giant violated antitrust laws by tying Microsoft Teams to its Office 365 and Microsoft 365 business suites. Last October, Microsoft unbundled Teams for users in the European Union and Switzerland, but the European Commission's Statement of Objections calls it "insufficient."

The European Commission used its statement to detail its concern "that Microsoft may have granted Teams a distribution advantage by not giving customers the choice whether or not to acquire access to Teams when they subscribe to their SaaS productivity applications. This advantage may have been further exacerbated by interoperability limitations between Teams' competitors and Microsoft's offerings. The conduct may have prevented Teams' rivals from competing, and in turn innovating, to the detriment of customers in the European Economic Area."

Microsoft faces a fine equal to 10 percent of its annual worldwide turnover if the EU confirms its preliminary findings, so it's no surprise the company is being cordial. "Having unbundled Teams and taken initial interoperability steps, we appreciate the additional clarity provided today and will work to find solutions to address the Commission's remaining concerns," said Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President of Microsoft, in a statement shared with Engadget.

This ordeal began in 2020 when Slack — now owned by Salesforce — filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft, claiming it broke the EU's competition rules in bundling Teams to its suites. In April 2023, Microsoft declared its intention to offer Teams on its own (albeit without a clear plan), but the European Commission still formally opened an investigation just three months later. Following October's unbundling, Microsoft announced this past April that Teams would be available separately from Microsoft 365 and Office 365 to customers worldwide — current users could also switch plans.

The European Commission's Statement of Objections also mentions a complaint by Alfaview, another video-conferencing software, which filed a similar grievance to Slack in July 2023 and notes it has open proceedings based on that complaint.