When you’re in a position of dominance, it’s easy to leverage your position to easily enhance and develop your product offerings to favour your own or build features faster than your competition can. And determining whether it’s just down to better ingenuity or a deliberate attempt at stifling competition, is a fine line.
We’ve seen a lot of development from Microsoft to build out its Teams product in the face of Covid-19 and a growing reliance on remote communication. However, all this hard work that Microsoft is putting in has led to Slack – the same company that has previously claimed it has different focus to Teams – filing a complaint with the European Commission claiming the tech giants behaviour is anti-competitive. As the company explains in the following statement:
Microsoft is reverting to past behaviour. They created a weak, copycat product and tied it to their dominant Office product, force installing it and blocking its removal, a carbon copy of their illegal behaviour during the ‘browser wars.’ Slack is asking the European Commission to take swift action to ensure Microsoft cannot continue to illegally leverage its power from one market to another by bundling or tying products
The company claims that Microsoft tying a lot of features into its Office Suite of products gives it an unfair advantage, along with the fact that Teams has been automatically installed on computers as part of upgrades, essentially making the adoption of their product far easier.
It is a complaint that has been made to Microsoft before, especially by other browser developers who felt that having Internet Explorer pre-installed on Windows devices was an unfair advantage. It’s a difficult one to judge though because you cannot blame Microsoft from integrating its Teams product with its Office suite, as it makes things far easier for its customers and adds a lot of value to the product. As for having it pre-installed as part of updates, you could argue that this is potentially predatory, but at the same time, Microsoft is not forcing them to use it and it is the same approach that almost every phone manufacturer takes with certain core apps coming with their devices, whether you use them or not
It’s perhaps a bit bold of Slack to attempt this, but the European Commission has been shown to find favour with the smaller companies before, so perhaps they are in with a chance this time.
Last Updated: July 24, 2020