Categories: Regulation

Microsoft ‘Faces New EU Antitrust Probe’

Microsoft is reportedly facing another antitrust investigation by the European Commission after talks to avoid one failed.

The Commission is likely to launch a probe following a 2020 complaint by Microsoft competitor Slack, now owned by Salesforce, over Microsoft’s free inclusion of its Teams product in Office 365, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources.

Microsoft in 2017 added Teams, a Slack competitor that offers similar business communications and collaboration features, to Office 365 at no extra charge.

Slack said the move took unfair advantage of Microsoft’s dominance in productivity software to crush competition.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella

Remedy failure

Microsoft began discussions with the European Commission last year over remedies that could make a formal probe unnecessary, and reportedly offered to cut the price of Office when Teams was not included.

The Commission was seeking a steeper price cut than Microsoft was willing to offer, Reuters said. The EU executive body declined to comment.

Microsoft said: “We continue to engage cooperatively with the Commission in its investigation and are open to pragmatic solutions that address its concerns and serve customers well.”

The EU has fined the Redmond, Washington-based software giant some 2.2 billion euros (£1.9bn) over the past ten years for breaching competition rules, including by bundling various products together, such as integrating its own browsers or media players into Windows.

‘Constructive contributions’

The Commission recently approved Microsoft’s proposed blockbuster $68.7bn (£54bn) acquisition of Activision Blizzard, saying the remedies Microsoft had offered were sufficient to ensure fair competition, after the US and the UK had moved to block the deal.

Microsoft president Brad Smith met with EU officials last Thursday in Brussels and encouraged them to regulate AI in ways specified by the software company, as the bloc prepares its AI Act regulation.

“Our intention is to offer constructive contributions to help inform the work ahead,” Smith said in a blog post.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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