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The EU believes Microsoft has breached antitrust rules with its Teams bundles

EU flag with Microsoft logo on the left

In July 2023, the European Union's regulatory body, the European Commission, officially opened an investigation into Microsoft. The probe was to find out if the company's bundling of its Teams online meeting and collaboration service with other productivity services like Microsoft 365 violated the EU's antitrust laws.

Today, the EC revealed that its preliminary findings show that Microsoft has indeed violated the EU antitrust rules with Teams. In a press release, the EC says that bundling Teams with its core productivity services has cut down competition from rival companies with similar products.

In October 2023, Microsoft announced it would offer customers a way to buy access to Teams as a stand-alone service, in addition to bundling Teams with a Microsoft 365 subscription, in much of Europe. In April, Microsoft offered its stand-alone Teams service globally.

However, the EC's statement today claims that Microsoft's efforts were not enough to allay its concerns and that the company needs to do more so it can comply with the EU antitrust rules.

Margrethe Vestager, the RC's Executive Vice-President in charge of competition policy, is quoted in today's press release as saying:

We are concerned that Microsoft may be giving its own communication product Teams an undue advantage over competitors, by tying it to its popular productivity suites for businesses. And preserving competition for remote communication and collaboration tools is essential as it also fosters innovation on these markets. If confirmed, Microsoft’s conduct would be illegal under our competition rules.

Microsoft will now be able to respond to the EC's concerns in order to avoid penalties for violating the EU's antitrust rules. If that indeed happens, the EC could impose fines of up to 10 percent of Microsoft's annual worldwide turnover.

In a statement sent to Engadget, Microsoft President Brad Smith stated:

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.

The EC did not provide a timeline for when it will make its final decision on this matter.

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