Exclusive-Microsoft seeks to settle EU antitrust concerns over Teams -sources

FILE PHOTO: Smartphone with Slack logo stands in a shopping cart on a keyboard in front of displayed Salesforce logo in this picture illustration taken December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Microsoft is seeking to address European Union antitrust concerns about its business practices prompted by a complaint from Salesforce.com's workspace messaging app Slack, people familiar with the matter said.

The move, which may head off the opening of a formal EU antitrust investigation, underscores once again Microsoft's new preference for working out issues with regulators rather than jousting with them as it did in the previous decade.

Microsoft found itself in the European Commission's crosshairs again last year after Slack alleged the U.S. software giant has unfairly integrated its workplace chat and video app Teams into its Office product.

Microsoft introduced Teams in 2017, aiming for a slice of the fast-growing and lucrative workplace collaboration market.

It has made a preliminary offer of concessions to try to allay the EU competition enforcer's concerns, one of the people said.

Microsoft, which has been hit with 2.2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in EU fines in the previous decade for cases involving so-called tying and other practices, declined to comment.

The company has previously said it created Teams to combine the ability to collaborate with the ability to connect via video and that it gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic while Slack suffered from its absence of video-conferencing.

The Commission also declined comment.

"As you know the assessment of the complaint is ongoing so we cannot comment further," it said.

The EU antitrust watchdog sent questionnaires, its second batch, to rivals in October, asking for more details on Microsoft's interoperability and bundling practices, suggesting it may be preparing the ground for a formal probe, other people familiar with the matter told Reuters last month.

Microsoft is also the target of several antitrust complaints related to its cloud computing and another one over its bundling of OneDrive with Windows.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Alexander Smith and Mark Potter)

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