Microsoft to unbundle Teams to appease EU competition worries


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Microsoft will remove the videoconferencing app Teams from its Office software and make it easier for competing apps to be interoperable with its systems in a bid to stop the EU from pressing ahead with an antitrust probe over alleged uncompetitive behaviour.

The concessions announced on Thursday come weeks after the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, opened an investigation into Microsoft and three years after Slack, now owned by Salesforce, formally complained to Brussels about its rival.

Teams will still be available for customers to buy standalone at €5 a month or €60 a year, Microsoft vice-president of European government affairs Nanna-Louise Linde said in a blog post.

Linde said as part of the EU probe, there was pressure on Microsoft to do more “in terms of providing support and making development easier” for competing apps. The tech giant said it would make it easier for Teams rivals to use Microsoft’s own functionality instead of developing their own.

Microsoft made the changes unilaterally, but it is unclear whether they will be enough to dispel the anti-competitive behaviour concerns raised by Slack and others.

It had offered the concessions to officials in efforts to avert a formal probe, the Financial Times reported in April. They were insufficient, however, to prevent EU regulators from opening a formal probe into Microsoft over concerns that it “may be abusing and defending” its market dominance in productivity software “by restricting competition”.

While the negotiations between officials and the tech company are continuing, people with knowledge of the process said the commission was set to issue formal charges against Microsoft in the autumn — an indication that the tech giant may need to offer more concessions to avert a potential penalty. Companies found to be in breach of EU law face fines of up to 10 per cent of global turnover.

The probe against Microsoft ends a long-held truce between the company and the commission following a string of competition cases that ended in 2013, when the commission imposed a €561mn fine on the company for failing to comply with an enforcement decision related to the tying of its Internet Explorer browser to its Windows operating system.

The investigation also comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of Big Tech’s alleged anti-competitive practices in Europe. In June Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s executive vice-president in charge of competition and digital policy, threatened to break up Google.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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