The gloves are off in the Slack v Microsoft rivalry
Slack, one of the world’s most popular tools for team collaboration software, is taking its competition with Microsoft to the next level. For years, the two companies have been battling for a top spot in the collab world. Each business has taken numerous shots against the other.
Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s CEO, even called Microsoft out with numerous burns at the Wall Street Journal Tech Live conference. However, now it seems like the gloves are truly off. On the 22nd of July, Slack announced that it had officially filed a competition complaint against Microsoft Corporation before the European Commission.
The complaint highlights apparently “anti-competitive” practices by Microsoft. According to Slack, Microsoft has been illegally abusing its dominance in the market to extinguish any competition. This puts Microsoft in breach of European Union laws about fair competition.
Slack says that Microsoft has illegally tied the Teams collaboration product to the market-dominant Office productivity suite. This means that millions of people get the app ‘forcibly’ installed. Additionally, Slack also says that Microsoft has blocked the removal of Teams and is hiding the actual cost of the tool to enterprise clients.
VP of Communications and Policy at Slack, Jonathan Prince, said that Slack is confident that they “win” the market on the merits of their product. However, Prince also noted that Slack refused to ignore the illegal behaviour of Microsoft, as it might be depriving customers of access to the solutions they want to use.
Jonathan noted that the complaint was much bigger than the “Slack vs. Microsoft” debate. He believes that the argument highlights two philosophies for the future of the digital workplace. Prince said that Slack offers a flexible and open approach that acts as a genuine threat to Microsoft because it’s a gateway to innovative best-in-class technology. Slack wants to be the “2% of the software budget”, which makes the other 98% more valuable.
Slack noted that the recent complaint represented the best interests of consumers. According to the Slack team, the company only wants a fair competition in the collaboration market – and a level playing field for all brands. David Schellhase, the General Counsel at Slack, commented on the recent story.
David explained that healthy competition ignites innovation in any industry and creates better products and more choices for end-users. However, competition laws are there to make sure that no company can unfairly have an advantage over another. In the recent complaint, Slack asked the EU to act as a neutral referee and examine the facts about what Microsoft is doing with its Teams solution.
Slack believes that Microsoft’s strategy with Teams is an example of the company reverting to past behaviours. Schellhase called Teams a “weak, copycat product,” and said that Microsoft tied the solution to the Office product to force more installations. Slack is asking the European Commission to take quick action and prevent Microsoft from continuing this behaviour.
The European Commission will now need to examine the complaint and decide whether a formal investigation is necessary…