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Microsoft Fails To Head Off European Probe Into Teams Video

Microsoft has failed to head off an investigation into its marketing of Teams Video by the European Commission.

Bundles marketing of Teams is among a suite of complaints that the European Commission intend taking against big US tech firms. New stricter laws in the European Economic Area can lead to fines of up to six percent of global annual revenue.

The Commission already has fined the tech giants many billions of dollars. Fines include US$5.1 billion and US$2.7 billion against Google in 2018 and 2017 respectively, US$1.3 billion and US$400 million against Meta Platforms in 2023 and 2022 and $888 million against Amazon in 2021.

This latest investigation into Microsoft stems from it tying the availability of Teams Video to Office 365 and Microsoft 365.

In late August Microsoft attempted to head off a probe by offering to sell Teams in Europe separately at a discount.

But the unbundling plan seems not to have satisfied the European Commission’s antitrust concerns and the complainant, Salesforce’s Messaging Platform Slack, which filed its complaint three years ago.

According to reports, The European Commission saw the bundling as giving Teams an unfair market advantage. BigTechWire sees it as a rerun of earlier Microsoft antitrust cases in the European Economic Area.

In 1998, Microsoft faced a €497 million fine for bundling Internet Explorer with Windows, and a €561 million fine in 2013 for failing to comply with a 2004 settlement addressing bundling and interoperability (incompatibility), BigTechWire reports.

However, Microsoft’s proposal to unbundle Teams, address interoperability and let third-party software to host Office web applications hasn’t satisfied the EC.

The commission’s move suggests it is taking a broad look at the US Tech’s marketing ploy of creating walled gardens that force users to buy even more products from a vendor, or face software compatibility issues. That has implications for several tech giants.

As well as the Digital Services Act that came into force last month, the EC has adopted a Digital Markets Act to regulate large digital platforms and protect third parties and give business access to data they generate on the platform. “Gatekeepers” of a tech platform cannot treat their own products more favourably than products from other vendors or prevent consumers linking to businesses outside their platforms.

Under recent law, big tech can face fines in Europe of up to six percent of their global annual revenue and even temporary bans.

Big tech is in the process of complying with both pieces of legislation.

In Australia, big tech firms have lobbied the Albanese Government against adopting European Commission-style law as the government frames laws around artificial intelligence.

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