Slack takes Microsoft to EU antitrust regulators

Technology major Microsoft may face probe by EU antitrust regulators after U.S. workspace messaging app Slack Technologies complained about the company embedding its workplace chat and video app Teams in its Office product.
Slack for mobilitySlack said the issue was Microsoft’s Teams productivity software, which was introduced in early 2017 to compete with Slack’s chat app and others in the fast-growing and lucrative workplace collaboration market.

Microsoft on March 19 said that Teams, its chat and conferencing app, reached 32 million users as of March 11 amid a surge in remote work by companies around the world in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Slack, which has been called an “email killer”, competes with Microsoft’s workplace messaging platform, Teams, which surpassed 20 million daily active users in November last year.

Slack said it had over 110,000 paid users at the end of the fourth quarter, up 25 percent from last year. Slack’s revenue rose 49 percent to $181.9 million. The company said it expects billings of $970 million to $1 billion for fiscal 2021.

Slack said on Wednesday that it has filed a complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission, Reuters reported.

“What we asking for is Teams be separated from the Office Suite and sold separately with a fair commercial price tag, so it competes on the merits with our products,” its general counsel David Schellhase told reporters.

The company accused Microsoft of illegally tying its Teams product into its market-dominant Office productivity suite, force installing it for millions, blocking its removal, and hiding the true cost to enterprise customers.

Microsoft said it look forward to providing information to EU competition enforcers.

“We created Teams to combine the ability to collaborate with the ability to connect via video, because that’s what people want. With COVID19, the market has embraced Teams in record numbers while Slack suffered from its absence of video-conferencing,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

“We’re committed to offering customers not only the best of new innovation, but a wide variety of choice in how they purchase and use the product.”

Videoconference has seen a surge in demand as employees work remotely due to lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Other players include Zoom Video Communications, Alphabet’s Google, Facebook and Cisco.

The Commission, which has fined Microsoft $2.6 billion in an investigation involving tying cases and other practices, confirmed receipt of the complaint, saying that it would assess it under its standard procedures.