10 votes

Slack files competition complaint against Microsoft before the European Commission, alleging that tying Teams into Office is anti-competitive and illegal

8 comments

  1. tindall
    Link
    Good gods, this is hypocritical. Slack builds a proprietary chat service, maintains IRC and programmatic gateways long enough for all the tech types to get their teams to adopt it, and then...

    Good gods, this is hypocritical. Slack builds a proprietary chat service, maintains IRC and programmatic gateways long enough for all the tech types to get their teams to adopt it, and then unilaterally turns around and tears down all those integrations - and then complains that Microsoft is anti-competitive?

    I mean, they are, but all these lock-in-as-a-service SaaS providers can burn together as far as I care.

    21 votes
  2. TheJorro
    (edited )
    Link
    I figured this might happen as soon as Microsoft started touting those rapidly growing Teams numbers. I used to work for an organization of 60,000 employees with a corporate O365 license....

    I figured this might happen as soon as Microsoft started touting those rapidly growing Teams numbers. I used to work for an organization of 60,000 employees with a corporate O365 license. Microsoft probably counted us as 60,000 unique users. Barely anyone was using it at the time. But that's a selling point they can put in marketing to other businesses.

    I actually got an inside view from the inside of a large enterprise as our corporate IT thought O365 was just another Office upgrade to quickly realizing how over their heads they were since O365 is not simply Microsoft Office. In fact, our O365 rollout was delayed by 5 months specifically because of MS Teams and all the problems it created that we hadn't faced with previous versions of MS Office (though we should have had a foothold with Lync).

    Slack's not wrong in challenging this. Microsoft was selling an Office upgrade but then throwing in a whole new communications suite that totally changes business workfow. I can understand why: Slack showed how useful such a thing really was. My division was using a private IRC channel well ahead of a corporate group messaging solution in the early 2010's, then we switch to Atlassian HipChat, then eventually Slack. Slack was great for us, it offered us everything we needed for our business needs and was super extensible and friendly. It even tied into our other tools and services well, and let us really expand our culture internally. Staff loved using it too.

    But then Corporate IT inked a huge contract with Microsoft in 2018 and suddenly they have to get their money's worth by forcing everyone to use the entirety of the suite. The problem is that we specifically chose Slack as our communications suite for many reasons, including where it allowed us to follow the law better and more easily. I'm not convinced the current corporate IT approach would stand up in court if challenged, in fact I'd happily argue against it since it has to do with recordkeeping and freedom of information.

    I've been hearing similar stories from other, similar enterprises of this size. Microsoft O365's adoption has created problems with other, preferred tools in many of these places. It's not just Teams and communications affected by this either. MS Whiteboard is causing a problem for designers who prefer Miro, for example. And I believe this is the core of the complaint: these aren't consumer-level problems, these are corporate and business problems, and the money at stake here is much, much higher than what we saw before with the browser issues.

    MS O365 is effectively slotting into a space for many companies and then quickly inflating itself, pushing out other market competitors thanks to its strong foothold of expensive contracts. They already have a firm root in place thanks to decades worth of offering the best office suite for over 20 years, and at least three upgrades in that time for many companies. They're effecetively using their place to starve out any competition by putting out their own versions into the Office suite that they've convinced companies to pay more for to get these new features and tools, even when their new features and tools are subpar and are putting companies in precarious positions.

    4 votes
  3. [6]
    drannex
    (edited )
    Link
    These two statements, from the same source, are entirely at ends with each other. this is a complaint, and Slack will get a nice PR push on their stock price (Which is still lower than their IPO...

    "Microsoft has illegally tied its Teams product into its market-dominant Office productivity suite"

    “Slack threatens Microsoft’s hold on business email, the cornerstone of Office,"

    These two statements, from the same source, are entirely at ends with each other. This will be settled out of court this is a complaint, and Slack will get a nice PR push on their stock price (Which is still lower than their IPO price from over a year ago).

    1. [2]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      It's not a lawsuit, there's nothing to settle. It's a complaint requesting an investigation:

      It's not a lawsuit, there's nothing to settle. It's a complaint requesting an investigation:

      The European Commission will now review the complaint and decide whether to open a formal investigation into Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices.

      3 votes
      1. drannex
        Link Parent
        My apologies. The point still stands - this won't be able to pass the smell test of the investigators, and will likely just be seen as an action to increase their publicity and stock price. Slack...

        My apologies.

        The point still stands - this won't be able to pass the smell test of the investigators, and will likely just be seen as an action to increase their publicity and stock price. Slack has only gained ~2.5m users in the last few months (12.5m total) whereas Teams has increased by 2-fold (roughly 30m, to 70m total)

    2. [2]
      Loire
      Link Parent
      Is there any veracity to the claim that tying Teams into the Office Suite is illegal? I don't see how that would in any way be the case.

      Is there any veracity to the claim that tying Teams into the Office Suite is illegal?

      I don't see how that would in any way be the case.

      2 votes
      1. Deimos
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Technology antitrust law is a huge mess, and I honestly don't even know if there's anyone that understands it particularly well or could offer a truly practical definition of what's a violation or...

        Technology antitrust law is a huge mess, and I honestly don't even know if there's anyone that understands it particularly well or could offer a truly practical definition of what's a violation or not. There's really not a clear separation between what's just a "new feature" and completely fine compared to what's going to be considered illegal bundling.

        In theory, this isn't too different from previous antitrust cases that Microsoft has already lost:

        7 votes
    3. drannex
      Link Parent
      I would also suggest reading the MarketWatch report after reading the official notice: Statements like this won't help in the case (he has been making this claim since Team launched several years...

      I would also suggest reading the MarketWatch report after reading the official notice:

      Despite the antitrust claim, Slack Chief Executive Stewart Butterfield has insisted in interviews, including one with MarketWatch, that Teams is not a competitor to Slack. “If Microsoft is such a competitive threat to Slack as it says, we would not have grown in sales and $1 million customers,” Butterfield said in April. “I mean, 44 million is an impressive number, but that is out of 200 million Office 365 customers. That’s about a 20% adoption rate.”

      Statements like this won't help in the case (he has been making this claim since Team launched several years ago)

      “While MSFT has taken a lot of market share, much of this has resulted from ‘upgrading’ its existing Skype communications software to Teams,” Mizuho Securities analyst Gregg Moskowitz said in a note Wednesday. “Since this is an effective replacement for Skype for Business, we believe that MSFT is likely within its rights to offer this ‘free’ upgrade to its installed base, and that there will presumably be few complaints from European customers, whose rights the EC are charged to protect.”

      Another aspect is they have business email, business document manager, and business video chat (and has for over ten years) and this just combines their offerings.