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EU opens Microsoft antitrust investigation into Groups bundling

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The European Fee is opening a proper antitrust investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of its Groups software program with its Workplace productiveness suite. Slack originally filed an anti-competitive complaint in opposition to Microsoft with the European Fee in July 2020, simply months after a world pandemic started and the Microsoft Groups userbase began to develop quickly.

The European Fee will now carry out an in-depth investigation into whether or not Microsoft might have breached EU competitors guidelines by tying or bundling Microsoft Groups to its Workplace 365 and Microsoft 365 productiveness suites.

“Distant communication and collaboration instruments like Groups have turn into indispensable for a lot of companies in Europe,” explains Margrethe Vestager, govt vice-president accountable for competitors coverage on the European Fee. “We should due to this fact make sure that the markets for these merchandise stay aggressive, and corporations are free to decide on the merchandise that finest meet their wants. Because of this we’re investigating whether or not Microsoft’s tying of its productiveness suites with Groups could also be in breach of EU competitors guidelines.”

Slack’s original complaint alleged that Microsoft had “illegally tied” its Microsoft Groups product to Workplace and is “power putting in it for tens of millions, blocking its elimination, and hiding the true value to enterprise prospects.” Now EU regulators are absolutely investigating the state of affairs, after Microsoft reportedly supplied a concession to the EU to cease bundling Groups with Workplace. This clearly wasn’t sufficient to keep away from an official antitrust investigation — the Financial Times reported lately that EU regulators and Microsoft couldn’t agree on whether or not the elimination of bundling could be restricted to only the EU and the way costs could be impacted to make sure competitors continues to be truthful.

Microsoft additionally lately determined to remove its Microsoft Teams integration in Windows 11. The Chat performance in Home windows 11 was solely ever obtainable for shoppers and never the important thing enterprise customers that had been the main focus of Slack’s grievance. However Microsoft may have enabled enterprise assist sooner or later on this built-in model, and it’s potential the EU probe might need spooked Microsoft into killing the mixing altogether.

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That is the primary time Microsoft has confronted an antitrust investigation within the EU for practically 15 years, following two huge {cases} associated to Home windows Media Participant and Web Explorer bundling. In 2004 the European Fee ordered Microsoft to supply a model of Home windows with out Media Participant bundled. This resulted in a Home windows XP N model obtainable in EU markets.

In 2009, the EU additionally investigated the bundling of Web Explorer with Home windows and Microsoft ended up promoting a Home windows 7 E model of its working system in Europe with out Web Explorer bundled. Microsoft was additionally pressured to implement a browser poll field in its Home windows working system to make sure customers had been introduced with a alternative of net browsers. Microsoft was finally fined $730 million for failing to incorporate the browser poll in Home windows 7 SP1.

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