Politico I EU set to escalate Microsoft antitrust probe into Teams video service - 11.05.2024

The European Commission is readying antitrust objections for Microsoft in a probe into how the software giant bundles its video platform Teams with its must-have office software products, according to two people with direct knowledge of the case. European Union officials have been checking with companies that supplied information to the investigation what they could share with Microsoft, said the people granted anonymity by POLITICO to discuss the probe. Preparing the evidence this way is a crucial step before sending a statement of objections to the company which would lay out formal charges. 

Escalating the probe would also show that Microsoft’s efforts to assuage regulators haven’t worked so far. Since the probe was opened last year, triggered by a 2020 complaint from rival Slack, Microsoft has offered to split off Teams from its software packages in Europe and then extended the offer globally Microsoft is one of the Commission’s longest-standing antitrust opponents, racking up some €2 billion in fines in a slew of cases. But in recent years, it has ceded the spotlight to Google and others. This case would put the tech giant back in the full glare of antitrust scrutiny. 

French lawmaker Stéphanie Yon-Courtin has been calling on the Commission to move forward with its case. EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager responded earlier this week that the investigation would include checking how Microsoft could resolve any harm to competition. 

If the Commission decides that Microsoft’s bundling practices are illegal, that could also affect its future plans to integrate software services into its Windows operating system, such as its artificial intelligence assistant Copilot.

The company is also the target of complaints to the EU over its cloud service. Its move into artificial intelligence has also got antitrust scrutiny. In addition, Microsoft is in the EU’s sights as a gatekeeper under the Digital Markets Act which is designed to rein in tech firms’ control over key products and services.

Both Microsoft and the Commission declined to comment.