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EU launches antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft over Teams integration

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Microsoft faces a hefty antitrust fine after the European Commission accused the company of illegally linking its chat and video app Teams with its Office product, Reuters reports. Two decades after the last EU fine against Microsoft, a complaint from rival workspace messaging app Slack has now triggered a new action by EU competition watchdogs.

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Microsoft Teams should have a competitive advantage

The European Commission, which acts as the EU’s competition watchdog, said Teams has a distribution advantage. Meanwhile, restrictions that prevent interaction between Teams’ competitors and Microsoft’s offerings would further hamper rivals. “Maintaining competition for remote communication and collaboration tools is crucial as it also encourages innovation in these markets,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

The US tech giant was forced to pay €2.2 billion in EU antitrust fines two decades ago for tying or bundling two or more products. The company faces a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual global turnover if the Commission finds it guilty of antitrust violations. The Commission said the measures taken by Microsoft are not sufficient to address its concerns and that further changes are needed to restore competition.

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Microsoft appreciates “additional clarity”

Microsoft President Brad Smith reiterated statements he made earlier this month about the company’s willingness to resolve the issue. “After unbundling Teams and taking initial steps toward interoperability, we appreciate the additional clarity provided today and will work to find solutions to address the Commission’s remaining concerns,” Smith said.

Teams was added to Office 365 for free in 2017 and subsequently replaced Skype for Business. Teams’ popularity rose during the pandemic in part because of its video conferencing, but rivals said bundling the products gave Microsoft an unfair advantage. In April, Microsoft separated Teams globally from Office to address EU antitrust concerns and make it easier for rivals to work with its products, but sources said the unbundling was unlikely to appease regulators.

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