Slack made an anti-competition complaint to the European Commission about Microsoft Teams. According to the company, “Microsoft has illegally tied 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,” which is an abuse of its market and apparent breach of EU anti-competitive laws.
In a statement, Jonathan Prince, Vice President of Communications and Policy at Slack, claimed they are confident that they win on merit, but “cannot ignore illegal behaviour that deprives customers of access to the tools and solutions they want”.
While previously Slack did not consider Teams competition, the unprecedented rise of remote working this year gave room for Microsoft to overtake Slack thanks to its conference call feature. Speaking to The Verge, a spokesperson for Microsoft said: “We created Teams to combine the ability to collaborate with the ability to connect via video, because that’s what people want.
“With COVID-19, the market has embraced Teams in record numbers while Slack suffered from its absence of video-conferencing”.
The proof is in the pudding here, with Teams boasting 75 million daily users in April, with one day saying 200 million during the height of lockdown. Although, Slack did break personal records in March and rolled out a redesigned app for android and iOS in May.
“But,” Prince added in his statement, “this is much bigger than Slack versus Microsoft – this is a proxy for two very different philosophies for the future of digital ecosystems, gateways versus gatekeepers”.
In the same statement, General Counsel at Slack, David Schellhase claimed that Slack just wants “fair competition and a level playing field” which drives “drives innovation and creates the best products and the most choice for customers,” adding, “Competition and antitrust laws are designed to ensure that dominant companies are not allowed to foreclose competition illegally.
“We’re asking the EU to be a neutral referee, examine the facts, and enforce the law”.
The European Commission will now review the complaint and decide whether to open a formal investigation into Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices.