Microsoft faces another EU antitrust complaint, this time from German rival alfaview, raising concerns about the bundling of its video app Teams into the Office product. Regulators are gearing up to launch an investigation into its actions, prompted by a complaint filed by Salesforce-owned workspace messaging app Slack in 2020.
EU Antitrust Complaint Hits Microsoft
Alfaview, headquartered in Karlsruhe, Germany, and boasting a 500-strong workforce, has lodged a similar complaint with the European Commission. The company contends that Microsoft’s bundling strategy gives Teams an unfair competitive advantage, disproportionate to its performance, making it impossible for rivals to compete on equal terms in the communication software market.
Niko Fostiropoulos, the managing director, and founder of alfaview, expressed concerns about the multipolar distribution advantage that it enjoys by tying Teams with other applications in the office 365 suite. He believes this practice significantly and permanently impacts competition in the market.
Despite the complaint, Microsoft has chosen not to comment on the matter. However, it is important to note that Microsoft added Teams to Office 365 at no additional cost in 2017, ultimately replacing Skype for Business.
The European Commission is now poised to initiate a formal investigation into the tech giant’s actions after the remedies proposed by the tech giant were deemed insufficient. Reuters reported that Microsoft has already been fined a total of 2.2 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in the past decade for breaching EU competition rules. In an attempt to address the concerns, Microsoft offered to sell its Office product without Teams at a reduced price. However, regulators are pushing for a more substantial reduction to level the playing field.
Although no formal investigation has been launched yet, Microsoft is under scrutiny through an informal probe. A spokesperson stated that the company is cooperating with the Commission during the investigation and remains open to finding pragmatic solutions that address the concerns while ensuring customer satisfaction.
Nonetheless, alfaview urges the EU antitrust watchdog to take further action by initiating a formal investigation, as it believes Microsoft’s offered remedies do not adequately address the competitive imbalance caused by bundling Teams with Office. The situation highlights the ongoing tension between the tech company and its competitors over antitrust concerns in the European market.