Microsoft Charged with Antitrust Violation by the EU for 'Microsoft Teams'

The European Union (EU) has accused Microsoft of violating antitrust rules by bundling its Teams messaging and videoconferencing app with core office productivity applications like Office 365 and Microsoft 365. The EU suspects that Microsoft may have granted Teams an "undue advantage" by not giving customers a choice when purchasing the software. Additionally, limits on rival messaging apps working with Microsoft software may have widened this advantage.

The EU's executive vice-president for competition policy, Margrethe Vestager, expressed concern about preserving competition in remote communication and collaboration tools. Microsoft now has a chance to respond before the final decision is made. This marks the first antitrust charge against Microsoft in the EU in 15 years.

"The European Commission has informed Microsoft of its preliminary view that Microsoft has breached EU antitrust rules by tying its communication and collaboration product Teams to its popular productivity applications included in its suites for businesses Office 365 and Microsoft 365," the European Commission — the EU's executive arm — said in a Statement of Objections, which is sent to inform companies of concerns raised against them.

Last year the tech giant unbundled Teams from Microsoft 365 in an effort to quash antitrust concerns by the EU, but the European Commission said the changes were "insufficient to address its concerns."

Microsoft said Tuesday it would work to find solutions to address the commission's additional concerns.

This recent antitrust charge against Microsoft by the European Union is related to previous cases. It's the first such charge in 15 years, and it focuses on Microsoft bundling its Teams app with core office productivity software, potentially giving it an "undue advantage" in the market. The EU aims to ensure fair competition in remote communication and collaboration tools .

In 2001, the U.S. government accused Microsoft of illegally monopolizing the web browser market for Windows. The case revolved around Microsoft's bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows, restricting users' ability to uninstall it and use other browsers like Netscape and Java. The initial trial found Microsoft's actions unlawful under the Sherman Antitrust Act, but the Court of Appeals partially overturned that judgment. Eventually, Microsoft reached a settlement that led to modifications in its business practices. In the 1990s, U.S. federal regulators sued Microsoft, alleging monopolistic behavior in the personal computer market.

More recently, the U.S. government brought antitrust cases against Microsoft to block its acquisition of game developer Activision and against Google to divest some of its advertising businesses³.

These cases reflect the ongoing scrutiny of Microsoft's practices and their impact on competition in the tech industry.

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