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Slack files EU antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, citing anti-competitive grouping of teams

Slack files EU antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, says anti-competitive team grouping

The team’s chat software maker claims that Microsoft is forcing millions of customers to install Teams and hopes to remove Slack in the process.

Slack has filed a complaint with the European Commission accusing Microsoft of unfairly packaging its Teams collaboration application with the Office 365 suite. This move, Slack argues, allows Microsoft to abuse its dominant market position to «extinguish competition by European Union competition law. Union.

«Microsoft has illegally linked its Teams product to its dominant Office productivity suite, forcing millions to install it, blocking its removal and hiding the real cost from customers in the enterprise,» Slack said.

Microsoft launched Teams three years ago, making the group collaboration app available to Office 365 subscribers. Teams has 75 million daily active users, Microsoft said this week, up from 31 million in the past month.

The Slack app arrived in 2015 and has 12 million users, according to the latest statistics from October 2019.

In a statement following the announcement of the lawsuit, Microsoft pledged to work with the EU, saying: «We look forward to providing additional information to the European Commission and answering any questions you may have.»

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has criticized Microsoft’s behavior several times in the past, including claims that his rival has inflated the number of users. Although Butterfield said Microsoft was not a direct competitor, he told The Verge in May that Microsoft was «probably sickly worried about our killing and Teams is the vehicle that will do it.»

Slack says Microsoft’s decision to lead the adoption of Teams is reminiscent of previous software vendor antitrust struggles.

Microsoft has been accused by the European Commission of combining its Internet Explorer browser with its Windows operating system in a 2009 case, which was settled with Microsoft promising to increase access to rival platforms. However, Microsoft was fined € 561 million ($ 73 million) in 2013, when EU regulators determined it had failed to meet its commitments.

«Microsoft is returning to its previous behavior,» said David Schellhase, Slack’s general counsel. «They created a poorly copied product and linked it to the dominant Office product, forcing it to be installed and blocking its removal, a copy of their illegal behavior during ‘browser wars.’

«Slack calls on the European Commission to take swift action to ensure that Microsoft cannot continue to illegally harness its power from one market to another by grouping or connecting products,» Schellhase said.

Slack said the European Commission would now review the complaint and decide whether to open a formal investigation into Microsoft’s alleged anti-competitive practices.

For its part, Microsoft said Teams proved more popular during the pandemic because it offers video conferencing options that Slack doesn’t have.

«We have created teams to combine the ability to collaborate with the ability to connect through video, because that’s what people want,» Microsoft said in a statement. absence of video conferencing. We are committed to providing customers with not only the best of new innovations, but also a wide variety of options in how they purchase and use the product. «

«It is not surprising that Slack is taking this action if he believes it has a high probability of success,» said Irwin Lazar, vice president and director of services for Nemertes Research. «Stuart Butterfield said that while I don’t see Microsoft as direct competition, I feel that Microsoft is focusing on killing them, so I hope Slack will use all the legal means I think he can use to defend himself.»

Cisco Teams, Slack and Webex Teams are the most common team collaboration applications, according to a survey conducted by Nemertes Research. Cisco and Microsoft are implemented more frequently throughout the company, Lazar said, and Slack is used more departmentally.

Slack continues to aim to become a business alternative to Microsoft Teams, so I guess he hopes that the success of this presentation will allow them to compete better against Microsoft, eliminating the potential «Teams is free with Office 365 arguments» we hear often. from adopters, ”he said.