End of the first negotiation phase. Microsoft has failed to offer sufficient concessions to avoid the opening of a formal investigation by the European Commission. It is therefore a new antitrust procedure in Europe that opens for the Redmond firm.
On July 27, the Commission formalized the initiation of an investigation. It will be a question for this one to determine if the close links forged between Teams, Office 365 and Microsoft 365 do not constitute an infringement of the competition rules.
An illegal link, denounces Slack
The Covid crisis has given a boost to collaborative and videoconferencing solutions. But the American publisher seems to have pulled its weight even better than the others. Is it, however, because of the only qualities of its Teams solution?
“The Commission is concerned that Microsoft is abusing its position and defending its position on the productivity software market by restricting competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) with regard to communication and collaboration tools,” the regulator replies.
For the plaintiffs, Slack then Alfaview, there is no doubt that the tied selling practiced by Microsoft constitutes an unfair advantage, built on the dominant position enjoyed by its office suite.
Microsoft has “illegally linked its Teams product to its Office Productivity suite, dominant on the market, by forcing its installation for millions of people, blocking its withdrawal and hiding the real cost from business customers,” denounces Slack.
Tools that have become indispensable for the Commission
The Commission’s investigation will determine whether these “practices may constitute anticompetitive tied or bundled sales and prevent suppliers of other communication and collaboration tools from competing, to the detriment of consumers. »
The European Authority recalls that there is no legal deadline for the closure of an investigation into anti-competitive practices. The duration of the procedure is therefore uncertain. This depends, among other things, on the degree of cooperation of the companies involved.
Will the American firm show itself to be cooperative? To be continued. The Commission stresses that the current context is no longer that of the beginnings of Teams, launched before the pandemic. Since then, the use of these communication solutions has become essential.
“Remote communication and collaboration tools like Teams have become essential for many companies in Europe. We must therefore ensure that the markets for these products remain competitive and that companies are free to choose the products that best meet their needs,” warns Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president in charge of competition policy.