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Microsoft’s Efforts to Comply with EU Antitrust Rules May Require More Steps

 |  June 4, 2024

In an ongoing effort to address antitrust concerns raised by the European Commission, Microsoft’s Vice Chair and President Brad Smith acknowledges that the company’s decision to unbundle Teams from its Office suite might not be sufficient to meet the EU’s competition regulations.

The European Commission initiated a formal investigation into Microsoft in July 2023, scrutinizing the tech giant for potentially giving its Teams app an unfair market advantage by integrating it with its Office 365 and Microsoft 365 packages. This move prompted Microsoft to separate the services last October, aiming to alleviate the Commission’s concerns.

During a media roundtable in Brussels, Smith expressed that despite the company’s efforts to address the issue by unbundling Teams, “it seems apparent that our work is not done yet.” He emphasized the company’s commitment to finding a resolution, stating, “I wanted us to find a resolution to the Teams issues, that’s why we took the steps in Europe and outside of Europe.”

A Microsoft spokesperson revealed in April that extending the unbundling measure globally was intended to “ensure clarity for our customers,” signaling the company’s willingness to take further actions to comply with regulatory expectations.

Related: Microsoft Nears Multi-Million-Euro Settlement to Resolve EU Antitrust Complaint

Smith also mentioned the possibility of receiving a statement of objections from the EU, which would mark a formal progression in the investigatory process. However, he remained optimistic, noting, “But this doesn’t always lead to a case. If we get one we will work with it to see and understand. We are committed, wherever we can, to find a solution to the concerns.”

The antitrust investigation by the EU executive stems from a complaint filed in 2020 by the communication platform Slack, now a part of Salesforce, which accused Microsoft of leveraging its market dominance to suppress competition unfairly.

While details of Smith’s meeting with EU Competition Commissioner Margarethe Vestager in Brussels remain undisclosed, the dialogue underscores the ongoing negotiations and Microsoft’s efforts to align with the EU’s stringent competition laws.

Source: Euronews