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Bundeskartellamt examines market importance of Microsoft


Windows, teams, the Xbox – Microsoft has great market power. The Cartel Office is now examining whether the US software giant has “outstanding cross-market importance for competition”. If so, Microsoft could get tighter oversight.

After technology giants like Google and Meta, the Federal Cartel Office is now also scrutinizing the US group Microsoft because of its market power. According to its own statements, the authority initiated proceedings against Microsoft “to check whether the company is of outstanding cross-market importance for competition”.

Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt justified the suspicion with a number of Microsoft products such as Windows, Office, several cloud services and the extremely successful video telephony software Teams. In addition, Microsoft is active in the gaming sector with the Xbox, has an Internet search engine and operates a careers network. So there are “good reasons” for an examination, said Mundt.

If a cross-market significance is determined, the Cartel Office could take up any anti-competitive behavior at an early stage and prohibit it, as Mundt explained.

“Outstanding Importance” noted for Alphabet and Meta

New regulations in competition law have been in force since the beginning of 2021. A central component is the modernization of abuse control – the supervisory authorities can now intervene earlier in the event of violations by large digital groups and prohibit anti-competitive practices. On this basis, the authority also initiated proceedings against Microsoft. However, concrete practices are not yet examined.

The Cartel Office had previously determined that the Google parent company Alphabet and the Facebook parent company Meta had “outstanding cross-market importance for competition”. The US group Amazon went to the Federal Court of Justice against a corresponding classification. The cartel office is still examining whether the Apple group is also of such importance.