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Microsoft ready to take more 'steps' on Teams to address EU concerns

By AFP

June 4, 2024 09:42 PM


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Microsoft is willing to take further steps to assuage EU antitrust concerns over its video and messaging platform Teams, the company's president Brad Smith said Tuesday.

The European Union has been investigating since last year whether the US tech giant is "abusing its market position" by bundling Teams with its popular Office suite.

EU regulators are expected to draw up a charge sheet, known as a statement of objections, against Microsoft that sources say could come as early as this summer.

Smith said he would not be surprised if Microsoft got the charge sheet but said Microsoft had already acted to address concerns.

The company unbundled Teams from its Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites in Europe late last year and expanded the policy worldwide in April this year.

"We now have taken the kinds of steps that I think people were looking for us to take to provide Teams separately from other parts of our Office or M365 suite," Smith said.

"But I expect that we'll need to take some additional steps," Smith told a group of journalists in Brussels, adding that it was "too early" to know what would be wanted.

Smith was in Brussels to meet senior EU officials including competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager and to speak at events about artificial intelligence.

Vestager and Smith discussed the EU's competition cases against Microsoft during their meeting, a commission spokesperson confirmed, as well as the latest AI developments.

EU regulators are also studying Microsoft's partnership with ChatGPT developer OpenAI into whether it is a disguised merger.

Britain's competition watchdog is also examining the partnership.

Microsoft has invested billions into OpenAI but says the tie-up is good for competition in the AI sector.

"Our partnership has not only added competition to the market, it has created a new market that didn't exist before, namely this market for generative AI," Smith said.

He said Microsoft and OpenAI were separate entities, and "Neither of us controls the other."

The EU also received a separate antitrust complaint in late 2022 from Amazon-backed cloud trade group CISPE against Microsoft over its cloud licensing practices.

The two sides are currently in talks to resolve the issue.


AFP


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