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Microsoft’s Teams Accused of Violating EU Antitrust Rules

European regulators say Microsoft’s Teams may have breached its antitrust rules through “possibly abusive” practices.

The European Commission (EC) said Tuesday (June 25) that a preliminary investigation found that the tech giant had violated competition rules by bundling Teams — its messaging and conferencing offering – with larger business offerings like Office 365.

“We are concerned that Microsoft may be giving its own communication product Teams an undue advantage over competitors, by tying it to its popular productivity suites for businesses,” Margrethe Vestager, EC executive vice-president for competition policy, said in a statement. “And preserving competition for remote communication and collaboration tools is essential as it also fosters innovation on these markets.”

The EC said it believes that Microsoft could have given Teams a “distribution advantage” by not allowing consumers a choice on whether to have Teams when they purchased the software. And that edge may have been increased by limits on rival messaging apps to work with Microsoft’s software, the commission said.

“Having unbundled Teams and taken initial interoperability steps, we appreciate the additional clarity provided today and will work to find solutions to address the Commission’s remaining concerns,” Brad Smith, Microsoft vice chair and president, said in a statement when PYMNTS contacted Microsoft for comment.

The EC’s findings come a little less than a year after reports from last summer that regulators were looking into Microsoft’s Teams bundling.

The commission said Tuesday that after it opened its investigation in 2023, Microsoft changed the way it distributes Teams, offering some suites without the software.

“The Commission preliminarily finds that these changes are insufficient to address its concerns and that more changes to Microsoft’s conduct are necessary to restore competition,” the EC said in a statement Tuesday.

The EC’s findings come as Microsoft is facing regulatory pressure on the other side of the Atlantic, with the company — and other firms — facing a reported Federal Trade Commission probe in the U.S. over its artificial intelligence (AI) business.

“If these companies get slapped with an antitrust ruling, it could be a real game-changer for both the tech and AI industries,” Aron Solomon, a lawyer and chief strategy officer at the legal services firm Amplify, told PYMNTS. “We could see these giants getting split up or having their wings clipped, which would open the door for smaller players and newcomers to step up and shake things up.”

Solomon added that a ruling like this could require companies to examine their business practices and partnerships, potentially triggering a ripple effect on everything from supply chains to pricing and the availability of tech services and products.

“Companies might have to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to play nice with others,” he said.