The EU opens a preliminary investigation into Office/Teams bundling after Slack complaint

by Surur
October 9, 2021

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We have been around long enough to remember when Slack welcomes Microsoft Teams with a rather snarky full-page ad in the New York Times, explaining how Slack was made with “love” and that “Slack is here to stay“.

Fast forward a mere 5 years and Slack is no longer feeling so welcoming.  The company, which has been acquired by Salesforce, has complained to the European Comission that Microsoft is bundling Teams with Office and was therefore engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.

The EU has now responded with a preliminary probe into the workplace chat market by sending a questionnaire to Microsoft rivals such as Slack, Zoom, Google Workspace, Facebook and Cisco asking them about the impact of Microsoft bundling Teams with Office, reports Reuters.

The period of interest covers 2016 to 2021  and the questions asked include:

  • If bundled products give companies access to data that may increase their market power in both markets and at the same time make it harder for rivals, in particular those with only one product, to compete.
  • About barriers to entry or expansion in the workplace apps market, switching costs for customers and the importance of user data protection.
  • A list of their customers who have switched to Microsoft Teams or its bundled Office
  • The percentage of revenue they had lost as a result
  • The impact of the integrated products on their investments in innovation and the quality and price of their products.
  • If the COVID-19 had boosted demand for workplace apps
  • How this will evolve post-pandemic.

Slack has complained that the integration between Teams and Office is illegal and wanted the software unbundled.

They also claimed that Teams was pre-installed, difficult to un-install and that Microsoft refused to provide information that would allow rival products to work with Teams and Office.

The questionnaire does not mean a full investigation is coming, but it is a sign the European Comission is considering one.

Slack used to sneer at the threat Microsoft Teams posed, despite the obvious advantages of Teams on Office on Windows, but now appears to have changed their tune.  Do our readers agree with Slack that Microsoft is competing unfairly? Let us know below.

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