back to article Euro monopoly cops to probe Microsoft for slipping Teams into Office

European Union antitrust regulators are expected to next week launch their first formal probe into Microsoft’s integration of collaboration app Teams with its dominant Office 365 productivity software suite. It is 15 years since Microsoft’s last official engagement with the EU’s competition cops after which the Redmond-based …

  1. nematoad Silver badge
    Holmes

    Surprised?

    "The EU told us previously it had received several complaints regarding Microsoft's policies and licensing behaviour..."

    Who is remotely surprised at this?

    Microsoft is unable to kick the habits of a lifetime and will always try it on if it thinks that it can get away with this sort of behaviour.

    As Sir Terry said "A leopard cannot change his shorts."

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Surprised?

      By the time that this is sorted out the competition (Slack) will be dead - or almost so.

      1. boboM

        Re: Surprised?

        Exactly, they'll happily pay the fine as by that time the competition will be dead or so much market share will have been achieved that it is too late anyways. This used to be called racketeering.

        1. R Soul Silver badge

          Re: Surprised?

          In Redmond it's still called business as usual.

      2. R Soul Silver badge

        Re: Surprised?

        I for one would not mourn the death of Slack. Though it would be better if Teams, the even bigger PoS, died first.

  2. mikus

    It's the same old bundle-in they've been doing for 30 years to sucker/draw people into their ecosystems. Why is anyone shocked?

    1. t245t Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Microsoft Engulfe and Devour

      > It's the same old bundle-in they've been doing for 30 years to sucker/draw people into their ecosystems. Why is anyone shocked?

      a. Take an existing msging app and copy it.

      b. Then give it away with Windows.

      c. Get sued in monopoly court and drag on the litigation until.

      d. Your competitors go broke.

      e. Then award yourself an award for innovation.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      I don't think anyone is shocked. It just takes time for regulatory bodies to react.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's Internet Explorer

    all over again.

  4. NeilPost

    Edge

    No mention of the pervasive cancer that is Microsoft Edge. Echo’s of Internet Explorer practices of old.

    1. theblackhand

      Re: Edge

      There might be a reason for not mentioning Edge:

      https://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share

      Or are you referring to the monopoly it has on being used to install Google Chrome?

  5. localzuk

    Not sure about this one

    This isn't the same as the Internet Explorer or Media Player cases back in the day - they were bundled and non-removable as part of the OS.

    This is Teams being bundled into a product a customer can choose to buy separately. Teams is quite a useful productivity tool, and Office is a productivity suite. So it seems like a natural progression of that suite to have a productivity tool like this included.

    Microsoft Office is not the monopoly office suite any more - Google Workspace has more users. So, the question is, why aren't MS allowed to iterate and modernise their Office suite to compete?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      MS or Google? Which is the less evil?

      Office or Workspace?

      If I was asked, I'd reply neither. I've been using LibreOffice almost exclusively for the last 6 years. As for MS and Google? A plague on both of them.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not sure about this one

      I'll place you in a large company with some department creating a build image and with you having to image 20 machines with it. I reckon by the time you start configuring machine 5 you will have an inkling why that rubbish is the devil's spawn.

      Just try avoiding getting it rammed down your throat. It's pretty much impossible, and it made me very glad I abandoned all of Microsoft's crud years ago.

      LibreOffice on Mac isn't perfect, but given the blatant data sucking and the IMHO rather embarrassing lack of security of their products I think I'll stick with it.

      (and we set up a Jitsi server for video conferencing)

      1. localzuk

        Re: Not sure about this one

        I currently manage roughly 600 Windows PCs and 1400 Chromebooks, and use both Office 365, Teams and Google Workspace.

        Teams isn't amazing, but it isn't as terrible as everyone makes out.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not sure about this one

          Teams isn't amazing, but it isn't as terrible as everyone makes out.

          I agree.

          It's worse.

        2. Korev Silver badge
          Gimp

          Re: Not sure about this one

          > Teams isn't amazing, but it isn't as terrible as everyone makes out.

          As a former user of Skype for Business, I can only agree

          Stockholm Syndrome icon -->

    4. R Soul Silver badge

      Re: Not sure about this one

      Calling these Piles of Shit (tm) "productivity" tools is more than stretching the truth. I've never found they've improved the productivity of anyone who's had the misfortune to use them, the very opposite in fact.

      You ask why M$ isn't allowed to iterate and modernise their crapware. The answer to that is M$ are obnoxious monopolistic bastards who will stop at nothing to lock world+dog into their Evil Empire and crush anything that might resemble a threat to that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not sure about this one

        What entertains me most is the dramatically increased risk level it poses to business communication resilience.

        It's like setting up a taxi business exclusively based on 5 year old secondhand Ladas with bald tires.

    5. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Not sure about this one

      Microsoft in now bundling in the same offering (M365, unless the name changed recently):

      - Office desktop apps, including Teams client

      - Office web apps, including Teams client

      - Mail,calendar and scheduling system

      - Meetings, calling and chat system

      - Windows 10/11

      - Mobile Device Management

      - Content Management System

      - Social, intranet and storage system

      - Project and task management

      - Analytics

      - Learning

      - Automation, app building and chatbots.

      - Identity and access management

      And a few other things.

      The only thing that is lacking is access to the security logs (unless you agree to pay much more)

  6. Roger Lipscombe

    Behavior that deprives customers?

    "we can't ignore illegal behavior that deprives customers of access to the tools and solutions they want."

    I'm failing to see how bundling Teams with Office *prevents* customers from using Slack (or whatever) instead...

    Personally, I think the EU should sue Microsoft because Teams is crap.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Behavior that deprives customers?

      If a car company gave you free Shell petrol for life with a new car purchase, there is nothing preventing you buying a rivals.

      See the issue?

      1. Roger Lipscombe

        Re: Behavior that deprives customers?

        Yes, but. There _is_ nothing _preventing_ you from buying a rivals.

        Microsoft's behaviour is undoubtedly shady, but Slack aren't doing themselves any favours by misrepresenting it.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Behavior that deprives customers?

          So this is MS' nth iteration of shady bundling practices proven to lead to downfall of a competitor, but this time it won't happen and this time the competitor is indulging in misrepresentation in their complaint?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Behavior that deprives customers?

          There's this fun thing called cross-subsidising which is illegal for a reason.

          There also the issue that this is market abuse, and Microsoft's problem now that investigations have started is that it is a repeat offender which is going to lead to far more scrutiny and most likely far harsher fines.

      2. NeilPost

        Re: Behavior that deprives customers?

        Yes, but Shell aren’t a monopoly with ‘significant market dominance’. Microsoft are, so competition/anti-trust/cartel legislation etc comes into effect.

        1. localzuk

          Re: Behavior that deprives customers?

          Except, again, Microsoft aren't a monopoly. They haven't been for quite some time. Office has fewer users than Google Workspace. Zoom has more users than Teams. Android has more users than Windows. Linux has more server users than Windows Server. PlayStation has more users than Xbox. AWS has more users than Azure.

          I'm actually struggling to see where Microsoft are the market leader for anything. So calling them a monopoly doesn't seem to ring true any more. Unless you start trying to chop markets up into odd sub groupings.

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

            Re: Behavior that deprives customers?

            And if you are using MS products on a non-MS environment, you pay more (ask AWS users hosting Windows servers).

            Btw, you shouldn't mention Zoom there, it has the dubious honor of being crappier than Teams...

            MS is abusing its enterprise market dominance, as you can see when looking at that is included with the current M365 licenses.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Behavior that deprives customers?

      Then you obviously don't understand anti-competitive behaviour and the idea of horizontal and vertical integration and how these are used to deter customers switching suppliers.

  7. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Boffin

    Technical question

    I noticed a while back that Teams mysteriously doesn't need admin permissions to install.

    Is this an example of MS being overly kind to themselves ?

    1. localzuk

      Re: Technical question

      If you install the client on its own, by default it installs into your user profile. There's lots of applications that do that these days.

  8. ElRegioLPL

    I don't understand the issue here? If you're paying for the full Office subscription you are normally going to use Teams (included) over Slack (extra £)?

    This is just Salesforce wanting a bigger piece of the pie for their money

    1. Matt Palmer

      That is the issue. If you get something for free bundled with something else you use then you have much less incentive to spend money on a competitor's product.

      1. ElRegioLPL

        Yes but surely something like Teams is something you'd expect to have in the Office 365 suite?

        1. boboM

          Not if you're using your ((allegedly) illegally obtained) monopoly to force it down users' throats (allegedly)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nope. Cross subsidising and abusing market dominance is illegal.

      Bonus problem for Microsoft is that it is a repeat offender, so I hope the fine will be high enough to actually hit the shareholders instead of being payable out of petty cash.

  9. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Junkware

    I was reading a CVE recently regarding Outlook, I dont have the CVE number to hand, it was published in March this year, it involves a bad actor sending an email with a calendar invite which then used the MAPI component to reach out to an external server controlled by the bad actor and it could RCE and takeover a machine, steal data etc

    No user action required

    Just the mere fact of the outlook client receiving the email was enough to bend you over and shaft you

    And still companies insist on using M$ junk SMH

    1. Ace2 Silver badge

      Re: Junkware

      That was a misfeature that allowed someone to add a *custom calendar invite sound.* This is madness.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Junkware

      The real problem is the lack of liability: if companies using the nightmare that is Outlook + Exchange were able to seek redress from Microsoft then it might be forced to improve the products. In addtion, it uses proprietary protocols to restrict access by competing products to services.

  10. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Survey

    Recently, a popup question came up on Teams:

    How likely is it that I would recommend Teams (had to select a level from Very Unlikely to Very Likely). And a follow on question on the reason for the answer to the first.

    No smoke without fire. I wonder what was the reason for the survey

  11. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    If this is anti competitive then how come Google is allowed to buddle their apps with their conditions ?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      FAIL

      What?

      Nobody is saying that Google isn't anti-competitive; in fact it has lost several actions, mainly related to search engines, over it. But you need to be more specific: in which markets is it demonstrating anti-competitive behaviour and has any company stepped forward to complain?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Did you try using Google Search with a browser other than Google Chrome?

        You get a repeat popup asking you to use GC instead of your properly configured / not-sharing information / not displaying ads browser.

        And based on some research (not available through GS), the results to your query are not the same...

  12. razorfishsl

    They should also look into MS perverting the HTML standard so it only works with Edge.

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