Microsoft attracts scrutiny from rivals and UK over software bundling practices

Windows 11 Chat Setup
Windows 11 Chat Setup (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • A new report indicates that the UK's Competition and Markets Authority is actively listening to Microsoft rivals regarding complaints they may have about Microsoft's bundling practices becoming too dangerous.
  • The perceived issue is that by the company emphasizing the interconnectedness of OneDrive, Office, and Microsoft Teams with Windows, it's making it harder for rival companies to get their own communications, productivity, and storage platforms in the limelight for PC users to see.
  • Similar complaints have been made in the EU as well as by major companies, including Slack.

Tell us if you've heard this one before: Microsoft's bundling practices are irking rivals and attracting government attention. That should sound familiar, as recently an entire coalition of small companies (relatively speaking) formally asked the EU to step in and put a stop to Microsoft's current bundling behaviors. Not to mention, similar complaints have also been made by major companies such as Slack.

Though linked with the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) this time around, the gist of concerns is much the same as the other incidents (via The Telegraph). There is a worry that OneDrive, Teams, Office, and Windows are all bound too closely together, leaving little room for competing software to have a fair shot.

The CMA is actively listening for complaints and chatting with Microsoft rivals to hear their side of the story, an action that may ultimately precede an investigation or formal review. However, neither avenue of escalation has been announced at this time.

If the UK's CMA sounds familiar, it's because it recently made the news regarding its NVIDIA-Arm merger report, wherein it outlined a multitude of concerns with the deal. Not long after, the U.S.'s FTC upped the ante and sued to have the merger halted.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

15 Comments
  • It's a fair complaint. Slack must've plummeted when Teams took off over the pandemic. Whether it's illegal is another matter.
  • Maybe I've missed the news, but how does Google get away with this on Android? You can't hardly use an Android phone without having to use at least a few of Google's services. In some cases, there doesn't even appear to be a way to disable or remove them?
  • Google got stung for search, which, you know, absolutely is the biggest core part of its business. Now has to offer a choice to its users in Europe of alternatives.
  • That is just one of their many services that kills competition. I cannot even uninstall their Calendar and few more on Android.
  • Cool, now go after Apple for things like FaceTime, Music, GarageBand, Messages, etc. A company has the right to decide what to include. You are still free to decide what to use. I got a new Surface with windows 11. It has OneDrive pre-installed. However, an old program I use only supports Dropbox for cloud storage and cross device updating. Guess what, Microsoft didn't prevent me from installing Dropbox.
  • Spot on everyone is at it. For me ide rather keep my information in one easy to use place and one reason I use Microsoft for more or less every device I use as it all falls under 1 banner. Best of all if I move to another platform eg apple, Google ect I can still use all my Microsoft services on it. Something Google and apple don't offer the same experience with.
  • But why did you choose the services, wouild you have chosen them if they were not so integrated into Windows? I don't really do this cloud storage thing to be honest, but I do have a free dropbox account, useful for sending large files to people and was for sharing a couple of files between the laptop and main PC, but since I don't use the laptop these days and I now have a NAs which does both jobs, there is no real need for dropbox. i went for Dropbox because it works with Linux, windows and Android, I doubt very much if I had used one drive, I don't want a MS account. We have teams at work, and yammer, but no doubt our work choose them because they are included with office 365 and all that stuff, i wonder if they would have bothered with Yammer if it had not.
    Again I don't use Teams or yammer, I see no need for them, tell me if you want me to know something or put a notice on the notice board.
  • Amen to your comment
  • Apple operating system is not on the majority of machines in businesses, that is the different.
  • 100% agreed. Nothing is stopping users from installing Dropbox/Box or using Google Drive if they wish.
  • Fair shout. Microsoft have been here before, when they bundled explorer with Windows and killed other browsers. That little move cost them the crown jewel of 21st century technology. Bill Gates is quoted as saying that the various investigations and hearings that were going on at the time completely distracted him from the emerging mobile market. Hope it was worth it, Bill. Internet explorer on desktop in exchange for 0.00000000% of the mobile market. My guess is that it wasn't. PC's and phones should come with a clean, stock image. Pure windows/android/ios. No additional or pre-installed apps.... None at all. No maps, no office, no music, TV, weather, note taking, health tracking, gaming nonsense. Just a pure, clean OS Then, whatever the user wants to use, he/she downloads and uses, from whatever source, website or app store they choose.
  • Nice theory.
    But there are dozens of "pure, clean OS" releases out there.
    None has a market. Lost in all the griping over IE 20 years ago, is MS was *right*. In the internet age an OS that ships without a browser is a guaranteed commercial failure. And even they everybody was doing it, from IBM to the UNIXes. Now, since we're talking Europe: how much of a market does Windows N command? And how many of tbe people saddled with it *don't* immediately install the unbundled pieces? MS isn't out there releasing computer science projects, they are peddling *useful* commercial products so people will give them money for them. Anything that makes the product more useful to more prople they add.
    Because they like money.
    And since customers find their products useful, they make a lot of money that way.
    Which "clean OS" peddlers don't.
  • Edge is pre-installed with Windows, but guess what? I've installed Firefox and Google as well.
  • So if you can't compete with someone, you can now file a complaint?
    It's really annoying when Microsoft sends pop-ups to use Microsoft service but google does the same whenever you use a Google service in a browser other than google chrome. But bundling services for free that can be removed or disabled is an added value to the OS. Also, I don't understand why people lose their minds when W11 asks for a Microsoft account, but are totally comfortable with Apple and Google asking for mandatory accounts to use iPhone or Android.
  • But it's OK for Apple to bundle everything in iOS, and for Google to insist that their services are used on Android phones. Users have a choice, just because Teams is bundled doesn't mean people can't install something else. It's because we live in a society where it's easier to complain than to do something about it.