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Slack takes on Microsoft for an antitrust showdown over the future of work

Slack Technologies is accusing Microsoft of illegally tying its Teams product to its market-dominant Office Suite.

Slack takes on Microsoft for an antitrust showdown over the future of work
[Photo: Morning Brew/Unsplash]
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Slack Technologies is shining an antitrust spotlight on Microsoft, putting the tech giant in familiar territory.

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The popular workplace-messaging platform on Wednesday filed a complaint to the European Commission, accusing Microsoft of illegally tying its Teams product to its market-dominant Office Suite. The complaint alleges that Microsoft is automatically installing Teams on Office purchasers’ computers, and then preventing them from uninstalling it.

Teams is Microsoft’s communication and collaboration software, which is a direct competitor to Slack.

“We’re confident that we win on the merits of our product, but we can’t ignore illegal behavior that deprives customers of access to the tools and solutions they want,” Jonathan Prince, Slack’s vice president of communications and policy, said in a statement. “Slack threatens Microsoft’s hold on business email, the cornerstone of Office, which means Slack threatens Microsoft’s lock on enterprise software.”

Reached for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson told Fast Company:

“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.”

Microsoft—once seen as the bully of Silicon Valley—has largely dodged the antitrust spotlight since 1998, when the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the company for bundling its Internet Explorer web browser with its market-dominant Windows operating system. (How’s that for some 90s nostalgia?)

Microsoft now joins fellow tech giants Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, which are all under some form of antitrust scrutiny. The CEOs of the latter four companies are set to testify about their competitive practices at a congressional hearing on Monday.