German Rival Files EU Antitrust Complaint Against Microsoft

A European Commission spokesman said the European Union had slapped Microsoft Corp. with a $613 million fine and ordered it to offer versions of its Windows operating system without the company’s media player software within 90 days. The EU’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, has been under political pressure to “do something” about giant technology companies like Google and Facebook Inc., whose practices fuel populist anger.

The EU argues that by bundling the video app Teams into its Office product, Microsoft is using its dominant position in desktop PC operating systems to crush competition in markets for media players and low-end servers. The EU said that Microsoft’s move also hurts small businesses that rely on the unrestricted use of Office in their work and consumers who are forced to pay for features they don’t need.

Microsoft has been bracing for what could be its first formal EU antitrust probe in more than a decade. It is likely to face accusations that it unfairly tied its software products together, harming competition and customers.

Vestager’s Office has been distributing questionnaires to competitors to gather evidence for an investigation, which could lead to hefty fines if found guilty of breaching European rules on dominant market positions. The EU has a long track record of scrutinizing the behavior of large U.S. technology firms, with Microsoft having been hit with antitrust fines of about 2.2 billion euros in the previous decade.

Earlier this year, Vestager told Microsoft to offer more choices to PC manufacturers and consumers and stop its abuse of its near-monopoly power in markets for media players and servers. The commission also ordered Microsoft to disclose how it interacts with other computer software so that IT managers can choose a broader range of workgroup servers, knowing they will work on Microsoft desktops.

Alfaview, a German maker of workplace messaging services, echoed those criticisms in its complaint to the EU on Thursday. It argued that bundling Teams with Office gives the software an unwarranted advantage and said remedies offered by Microsoft to the watchdog were insufficient. A Microsoft spokesperson said the company continues to engage cooperatively with the EU’s investigation and is open to pragmatic solutions that address its concerns and serve customers well. The company has offered to cut the price of its Office software by removing Teams, but regulators want a more significant reduction, the people said.

Sabrina Gonzalez

Sabrina Gonzalez is a professional writer who is passionate about writing blogs and website content. With 10+ years of experience in freelancing world, she has gained a wealth of knowledge and insights on various topics. Throughout her career, Sabrina Gonzalez has worked with many popular journal magazine site and has helped with her writing expertise. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, travelling, painting and some more, which she often incorporates into her writing. Through her writing, Sabrina Gonzalez aims to fulfill the writing needs and to share her knowledge on different topics. She believes that readers should be knowledgeable too and hopes to inspire her readers.

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