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Microsoft's Windows software bundling practices spark complaint from coalition of companies

Windows 11 Taskbar Icons Surfacepro
Windows 11 Taskbar Icons Surfacepro (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • A coalition of companies has formed to urge the EU to keep Microsoft in check and prevent it from bundling software such as Teams and OneDrive with Windows.
  • The coalition claims such bundling practices create an unfair playing field.
  • This is not the first time Microsoft's software bundles have attracted negative attention and caused the EU to be involved.

A coalition of 30 companies has formed to take a stand against "Big Tech" and the danger it poses to EU businesses and consumers. Specifically, though the coalition namedrops Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, it takes the most direct aim at the Windows 11 maker in its actual complaints and demands.

You can see the coalition's multitude of statements on the situation over at its landing page, wherein the companies involved in the group reiterate their displeasure with Microsoft's practices. Here's the coalition's opening statement on the matter:

Microsoft is integrating 365 deeper and deeper in their service and software portfolio, including Windows. OneDrive is pushed wherever users deal with file storage and Teams is a default part of Windows 11. This makes it nearly impossible to compete with their SaaS services. In the wider context, you see that over the last years, Microsoft, Google and Amazon have grown their market share to 66% of the total European market, with local providers contracting from 26% to 16%. Behavior like this is at the core of this growth of the tech giants and has to be stopped.

As to what the group demands, it wants no "gate-keeping," which it defines as the bundling or preinstallation of Microsoft services on Windows or associated efforts to "push" services that disrupt an otherwise even playing field. It also wants "open standards and interoperability" so migrations are easy for consumers. Though there is a lack of clarity on that last demand, one can imagine it's aligned with common complaints lobbed at Microsoft in the past, such as Slack arguing that Teams' and Office's integrations made it harder for Slack to have a fair shot at attracting consumers in the same capacity as Microsoft's services.

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.

26 Comments
  • A quick read through the complaint has all of exactly zero allegations of illegal behavior. No prevention of installation, no threats to PC distributors, nothing. Bundling isn't illegal. Preventing choice is. I was amused to see most of the 30 companies that signed on are the usual open-source solutions that can't manage to grow beyond that 1.75 - 2% of the market that insists on trying to make Linux a thing on the desktop. /yawn I'm sure they are going to allege the same about Android and iOS, right?
  • Exactly. They need to stop acting butt hurt and just download the apps and services they need.
    This skewd perception should look at iOS in the same manner. They're actually much worse.
  • These companies can put their applications on the Windows 11 store. So, their complaint really falls flat on it's face and the onus is on them to compete for market share.
  • It's the old entitlement mindset that expects local consumers to go for their underwhelming/overpriced products instead of better "foreign" options. Pure protectionism. Look up the history of WINDOWS N.
    https://www.howtogeek.com/322112/what-is-an-n-or-kn-edition-of-windows/
    The bought and paid for Brusselcrats fined MS €500M and forced them to ship versions of Windows without media functions. Optionally. So MS now ships paired versions of Windows with and without Media capabilities in the EU. At the exact same price. And MS made back the fine with a 10% (permanent) price hike on all versions. Anybody stuck with a Windows N install can get a free Media kit download and manually add it to turn Windows N into standard Windows. Somebody didn't think things through.
    The whiner? No longer trying to sell the crappy MP3 media player behind the entire kerfluffle. Expect a replay.
    Those folks don't quite grasp the concept that free client apps help sell pricey server apps but don't force them.
    Corporate IT isn't that stupid but bureaucrats are.
  • "Waaaa! They're promoting their own products instead of ours! Waaaa!"
  • Yeah, this is a very tiring complaint from the EU. Why always go after Microsoft? When Apple is forcing Safari down our throats or their iCloud service....or whatever. Windows is Microsoft's product, they can mostly do what they want (within reason). Having Edge (IE from the past), Teams or Onedrive preinstalled doesn't stop said user from getting Chrome, Firefox, Google Drive, etc. installed and replacing what's there. Maybe the EU users are..... so the government has to help them out? This is so dumb. If your open-source software is good enough, it'll get traction without a government or union getting involved. There is nothing wrong with bundling software (outside of bloat). So chill out EU companies, a bunch of crybabies. Just switch to macOS and let see where this goes. Oh wait most likely similar if not the same complaints will arise.
  • “ Windows is Microsoft's product, they can mostly do what they want (within reason).” iOS is Apple’s product, they can mostly do what they want (within reason). Safari is not forced down anyone’s throats. Edge is available. Chrome is available. OneNote is available. I use Edge on my Mac, because Safari has weird issues when streaming video. Chrome and Firefox are also available.
  • I think this was TbouncerT's argument too. Why go after Microsoft specifically, when Apple does the exact same thing?
  • Why do go after Google's practices with Android and not Apple's iOS? After all, Apple kicked out Google Maps in favor of Apple maps and Apple made it difficult to change the default app in iOS whereas it's easy to do on Android
  • I do regular public speaking. I save notes for my speech on Word on my Windows PC. I save the .docx file in Google Drive. I open it in Word on my iPad and use that when I am giving the talk. All three of the major vendors seem plenty open to me.
  • Is the EU also mad that Android and iOS come with internet browsers and no browser ballet? Is the EU furious that mobile operating systems include dozens of apps which cannot be removed or uninstalled? Could it be possible that Microsoft isn't doing anything that its competition isn't already doing way worse?
  • But they're Microsoft!!!
    They're eeeevild because they refuse to vanish in a puff of smoke and brimstone just because they ask.
  • So, the Microsoft Store (or Windows Store) has been around since Windows 8 and before that there was the Windows Marketplace. Did any of those coalition members bother to write apps for those stores? One or two, yeah maybe. Microsoft had the mechanism in place for promotion of third party apps for years. For those companies whinging, put good quality apps into the Store and allow the app store to promote them. These companies didn't give a rat's arse about the store ten years ago (and that includes Windows Phone). They didn't bother writing apps then and are now cheesed off Microsoft's first party apps are in front.
  • I never really understand these complaints. It's in the consumers interest to get a complete system when they buy a pc, with all basic functionality you'd expect from a device. I remember some stores in the past who sold cheap laptops without OS, and 90% of the people came back to the shop to return their device, because it didn't work, and they got really angry when they found out they had to but their os separately. Same way as people used to ask if there was internet on a pc...Didn't realize they needed an ISP for that. You could also say that it is to be expected that your device comes standard with a browser, a mail app, a contacts app, a media app, a photo's app, a file explorer app, cloud backup integration, a chat/messaging app and basic firewall/virus protection, a calculator app, build in speakers/mic, etc. etc. EXACTLY like every iOS, every Android, and every MacOS device comes with all of those and many Linux distro's have most of those bundled too. Because that's what you'd expect. And if Microsoft is being forced to unbundle all this, it should apply to all of them. Which I think, is not in the interest of the majority of the users.
  • I was planning to post that these complaints lack merit, especially now that Windows as an OS has less marketshare than Android, and the Edge browser, even on Windows, less than Chrome, so one can't even argue monopoly, but I see the other comments here have this covered. Glad to see we're all for freedom to compete without government meddling here.
  • Worse, inviting governments helps nobody but the bureaucrats and politicians.
    MS used to have exactly *one* part-time lobbyist before the antitrust trial trying to break them up. They fought, they survived, and they learned: they now have one of the biggest lobbying operations in DC, providing free software, hardware, and user support to most of Congress. (When was the last time anybody reported on Congress *spending* on IT?) The whiners in that case? Dead and burried. MS shied away from further investment in mobile for years (bye-buy CE) and now consumers are stuck with the walled garden app stores of Apple and Google instead of the open world of Windows.
    Yay! 😠
  • I can get behind the open standards and interoperability, since vendor lock-in is never good, but as long as Microsoft aren't actively preventing these companies' services/programs from running on Windows 11, I don't see the huge deal.
  • OneDrive is deeply integrated with File Explorer. Windows, and any operating system, should have a built in cloud storage solution. You should be able to to use a different one though (which you can on Windows). This is true with iOS and Android. They have one, but you can use something else. They need to drop the OneDrive integration. I can see their point about Teams. The chat thing that uses Teams comes built into the Toolbar. That might be crossing the line. But really, iOS has Messenger and FaceTime preinstalled and not uninstallable.
  • Why do they need to drop the OneDrive integration? Its part of the product they create. At the same time they are not restricting other companies from integrating their product on install. About the only thing I can think are the Windows settings backup and restore but I don't think any OS vendor would want to give a 3rd party access to to do this to THEIR OS. I, for one, think its a fantastic idea that they have this pre-installed. The vast majority of PC users will never go out and install a third party backup app but may use OneDrive when it prompts. Its the same with Defender being integrated, most people will never install a 3rd party AV so having it there help protects the overall internet.
  • Sorry for the misunderstanding. "They" in "They need to drop the OneDrive integration." is the coalition of companies. "Drop" means to stop insisting on having MS remove the integration. We are the same page Rann. OneDrive needs to be integrated into Windows. I love it that way.
  • The problem I have is that it actually isn't bundled, well semi because onedrive is but with limited unpaid cloud storage. As for office, it's there but you must pay for a subscription to take advantage of it and you have an option to buy or not. The limited free cloud storage isn't any different than iCloud, dropbox, Google or anyone else.
  • This is basically Browser Choice 2.0 Remember when Opera complained to the EU about Microsoft bundling IE with Windows. Did Opera market share increase? No it didn't, because the average user just chose IE as the internet is the "big blue e" to them.
  • Actually most people just continued to install Chrome, Chrome install base did not increase, it was already high, people who were installing it just continued to. Chrome still sits as the #1 browser by a large margin regardless if IE (or Edge) is preinstalled.
  • Do you think that the average user would have installed Chrome when IE was preinstalled?
  • Opera actually achieved something. Their complaints against Google and Apple resulted in Edge for Android and iOS. They got more user choice for users. Microsoft benefited. Users found out that Apple never wanted to put it's stuff on other platforms. Opera did a good thing, just not that good for themselves.
  • Not really, it didn't increase their market share and Edge came about because Microsoft needed a more modern browser than IE.