Slack files competition complaint against Microsoft in the EU

After claiming Microsoft wasn't a competitor, Slack is now filing a competition complaint against Microsoft in the EU, claiming it is illegally tying Teams to Office 365.

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Credit: Microsoft

On July 22, Slack Technologies announced it had filed a complaint against Microsoft in the European Union, claiming Microsoft is abusing its market dominance to extinguish competition. After reviewing the complaint, the EU will decide whether to open an investigation into Microsoft's practices.

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Slack is claiming 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."

Microsoft makes Teams available for no additional charge to many of its Office 365 business customers. Like Slack, it also offers a free version of its group-collaboration product. As of April 2020, Microsoft said there are 75 million daily active users of Teams. As of late March, Slack said it had 12.5 million simultaneously connected users. Microsoft has nearly 260 million paid seats of Office 365 commercial.

Slack also claims the company "want(s) to be the 2% of your software budget that makes the other 98% more valuable," while Microsoft "want(s) 100% of your budget every time." Slack also says Microsoft is repeating its "illegal behavior during the 'browser wars'" by bundling/tying products.

In May, Slack's CEO Stewart Butterfield said that Microsoft wasn't a competitor to Slack, despite that Slack's own 10-Q filing cites Microsoft as its main competitor.

I've asked Microsoft for comment on Slack's complaint. No word back so far.

Update: Here's the Microsoft response, via a company spokesperson:

"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. 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. 

We look forward to providing additional information to the European Commission and answering any questions they may have."