The European Union announced on Thursday that it had opened a formal antitrust investigation into Microsoft, amid concerns that integrating the messaging and video conferencing app Teams with its office suite Office would give it an unfair advantage over its competitors.
The European Commission, responsible for competition in the bloc of 27 countries, said it would carry out its in-depth investigation “as a matter of priority”.
The case stems from a lawsuit filed in 2020 by Slack Technologies, which makes the popular office messaging software of the same name.
Slack, owned by business software maker Salesforce, alleged that Microsoft was abusing its dominance position to weed out competition, in breach of EU law, by illegally combining the Teams platform with its Office suite, which includes Word, Excel and Outlook programs.
“Remote communication and collaboration tools like Teams have become indispensable for many businesses in Europe. Therefore, we must ensure that the markets for these products remain competitive,” said Margrethe Vestager, EU Competition Commissioner.
“That is why we are investigating whether Microsoft’s integration of its office suite with Teams may breach EU competition rules,” he added.
In a statement, Microsoft said it respected “the work of the European Commission in this case” and added that it “will continue to cooperate with the commission and remain committed to finding solutions that address their concerns.”
Opening an investigation does not determine its outcome, the Commission noted.
Last week, German video conferencing company Alfaview added another lawsuit to the case, alleging that the integration gave the US tech giant an unrivaled competitive advantage “that is not justified by performance and that competitors like alfaview cannot match.”
The EU has led the increased scrutiny of big tech firms, amid concerns they may have become too dominant.
However, Microsoft has been given the green light in the latest Brussels reviews of its operations.
The EU has approved Microsoft’s plan to buy game studio Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, after the company offered to automatically allow licensing of popular Activision titles like “Call of Duty” for gaming platforms on the Internet. cloud.
Microsoft has also received the go-ahead from the EU to acquire video game firm Zenimax and speech recognition company Nuance.