Microsoft faces scrutiny after rivals complain

Britain’s competition watchdog is turning its sights on Microsoft amid growing complaints that the US giant is squeezing out rivals.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been meeting rivals to the Seattle behemoth to solicit concerns about its behaviour.

Such talks can be a precursor to market reviews or investigations, although it is unclear if the regulator plans to take further steps.

Microsoft’s smaller competitors are increasingly agitating against the company, which came close to being broken up two decades ago in a bruising war with the US government.

It has been accused of squeezing out rivals by including services such as its communication tool Teams and its OneDrive cloud storage system with popular software such as Word and Excel or its Windows software.

Last month, a group of European software companies led by cloud provider Nextcloud filed a formal complaint with the EU over Microsoft promoting the programs. It said including the features within its Windows operating system was a repeat of the company’s 1990s tactics of installing Internet Explorer on Windows in a way that harmed rival browser Netscape.

The Silicon Valley chat app Slack filed an EU complaint against Microsoft last year, with the filing remaining in place after the firm was bought by Salesforce.

The CMA has embarked on a series of investigations and reviews into Big Tech and is being given more powers as part of a post-Brexit shake-up of competition policy.

Last week it ordered Facebook to reverse the $315m (£238m) takeover of Giphy, the animated gif database, its biggest intervention to date and has forced Google to make concessions over changes to its Chrome web browser. Facebook has said it disagrees with the decision and is considering an appeal.

The CMA and Microsoft did not comment.

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