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EU officially opens antitrust investigation against Microsoft over Teams

The Microsoft logo in front of the EU flag

It's been rumored to happen for a long time, but now it's official. The European Union's regulatory body, the European Commission, has announced it has launched a formal investigation to assess whether or not Microsoft violated the EU's competition rules by bundling its popular Teams video conferencing software with Microsoft 365.

In today's press release, the EC stated:

In particular, the Commission is concerned that Microsoft may grant Teams a distribution advantage by not giving customers the choice on whether or not to include access to that product when they subscribe to their productivity suites and may have limited the interoperability between its productivity suites and competing offerings.

These practices may constitute anti-competitive tying or bundling and prevent suppliers of other communication and collaboration tools from competing, to the detriment of customers in the European Economic Area (‘EEA').

The EC first received a complaint against Microsoft over its bundling of Teams with Microsoft 365 from one of Teams' competitors, Slack, over three years ago. At the time, Slack claimed Microsoft was "hiding the true cost" of Teams to its customers by bundling it with Microsoft 365 with no option of offering Teams on its own.

Since then, there have been unconfirmed rumors that Microsoft has proposed offering Teams by itself as a way to prevent an EC investigation. However, other more recent reports claim there are differences between Microsoft and the EC over whether or not Teams should be a separate product just in Europe or if it could be available worldwide.

Today's investigation announcement by the EC did not offer a timeline for when it might be completed. It added, "The opening of a formal investigation does not prejudge its outcome."

CNBC received a quote from a Microsoft spokesperson, which stated:

We respect the European Commission’s work on this case and take our own responsibilities very seriously. We will continue to cooperate with the Commission and remain committed to finding solutions that will address its concerns.

If Microsoft is found to be in violation of EU antitrust rules, it could face a major fine,

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