The European Commission is to investigate whether Microsoft has broken EU competition rules by tying or bundling its communication and collaboration product Teams to its Office 365 and Microsoft 365 products for businesses.
Teams is a cloud-based tool that offers features such as messaging, calling, video meetings, and file-sharing.
The investigation follows a complaint made in 2020 by Slack Technologies.
The commission said that the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated a shift to remote working, as well as businesses' transition to the cloud and the adoption of cloud-based software for communication and collaboration.
It expressed concern that Microsoft could be abusing and defending its market position by restricting competition for communication and collaboration products.
It has concerns that the software giant may be giving Teams a distribution advantage by not giving customers the choice on whether or not to include access to the product when they subscribe to their Office 365 and Microsoft 365 suites.
“Remote communication and collaboration tools like Teams have become indispensable for many businesses in Europe,” said Margrethe Vestager (executive vice-president in charge of competition policy).
“We must therefore ensure that the markets for these products remain competitive, and companies are free to choose the products that best meet their needs,” she added.
The commission stressed that the opening of a formal investigation did not pre-judge its outcome.