Archive for June 26, 2024

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

EU Charges Microsoft for Bundling Teams and Office

Kelvin Chan (via Hacker News):

The European Commission said Monday it informed Microsoft of its preliminary view that the U.S. tech giant has been “restricting competition” by bundling Teams with core office productivity applications such as Office 365 and Microsoft 365.

The commission, the 27-nation bloc’s top antitrust enforcer, said it suspects Microsoft might have granted Teams a “distribution advantage” by not giving customers a choice on whether to have Teams when they purchased the software. The advantage might have been widened by limits on the ability of rival messaging apps to work with Microsoft software, it said.

Dare Obasanjo:

Four years after Slack complained that Teams being bundled with Office was unfair competition, the EU has charged Microsoft with illegal bundling.

If found guilty, Microsoft could be fined as much as 10% of global revenues.

First Apple, now Microsoft. The EU is out for blood this week.

Natasha Lomas:

It’s not only chat-based apps like Slack that might be impacted. As we pointed out earlier this year, video conferencing companies like Zoom have also potentially been impacted over the years by how Microsoft has bundled Teams — which is an all-in-one product offering messaging, voice and video calls, and conferencing to users. Indeed, since Slack filed its complaint, the EU noted, it’s received another complaint from German company alfaview GmbH, a videoconferencing provider, which it said raised “similar concerns regarding the distribution of Teams.”


Update (2024-06-28): John Gruber:

I can see the argument from regulatory proponents, that unbundling Teams from Office in some packages, after the fact, is too little too late. That the damage from abusing their dominant position was already done. But still, what more does the EC want?


I mean of course Microsoft had an advantage by being able to bundle Teams with Office. But Office needs something like Teams to remain relevant today.


Surely the lesson Microsoft is taking from this is not that they were wrong to bundle Teams with Office, but that they were wrong to offer their integrated service in the EU.

But I think the bundling was more about promoting Teams than about Office remaining relevant. Will the lesson for Microsoft be that they can stop the bundling in the EU now but that it was worth it?

Update (2024-07-02): Drew McCormack:

This is actually a pretty good case to demonstrate why the EU are pissed about these practices. Far from being the case that EU companies are incompetent, Skype – which dominated this space early– was a European company. Anticompetitive practices from the likes of MS ruined the whole market, such that only monopolists now have any chance, and the software is worse for it.

Slack to Delete Old Messages in Free Accounts

Slack (Hacker News, Slashdot):

Slack will no longer keep messages and files for the lifetime of your free workspace. Starting 26th August 2024, Customer Data – such as messages and file history – older than one year may be deleted on a rolling basis from workspaces on the free subscription[…]


If you choose to remain on a free workspace, you’ll have full access to the past 90 days of message and file history, and the remaining 275 days will become available should you upgrade to a paid subscription. If you decide to upgrade, we’ll store messages and files based on your chosen retention period, with an option to keep all history.

For the last few years, the free plan stored older messages but would not let you see them or export links to files from them. At this point, you have two months to pay, at least temporarily, if you want to export your data before it’s deleted. Exporting everything (including DMs) requires a Business+ plan at $15/user/month.

I think a lot of people thought that Slack would be like other services and use their enterprise business to subsidize much lower volume free accounts indefinitely. Instead, they are severely limiting the free accounts and pricing out informal communities and even small businesses. True, the search isn’t very good now, but there was always the potential that you would be able to find something in the future. This will also break any saved links to conversations. (Printing to PDF doesn’t work, but I have been archiving ones I want to keep by using EagleFiler’s system service hotkey to save the selected text as a Web archive.)

I see no reason that Discord and other free competitors won’t eventually do the same thing.

Adam Engst:

From Slack’s perspective, this policy update will reduce its data storage needs and may trigger some upgrades in the next two months. I doubt most free existing teams were dragging their heels on upgrading because they knew they could always recover all their old content. But perhaps it will increase the incentive for new free teams to upgrade.

I don’t really get it because it doesn’t seem like it would reduce Slack’s costs that much, nor would many stragglers on the free plan be able to or choose to upgrade.

Lucas Mearian (via Hacker News):

What Slack will eventually be able to offer both its own and Salesforce’s users is a unified experience where AI oversees any influx of both structured and unstructured data and parses through it to offer users the most important summaries. Being able to find key moments in chats and knowing what happened in conversations is hard to navigate, Dresser said, and is at the heart of Slack’s AI integration.


Update (2024-06-28): Adam Engst:

For anyone who would like to extract all their historical data from a free workspace, it turns out you can do that without subscribing. You only get public channels (but you can make private channels public temporarily and set them back again afterward) and files are only linked, not downloaded, which is a loss, but you will get all the text in JSON format.

Apple News Publisher Sign-in Required

Apple sent me an e-mail this morning:

It has been several months since you signed in to News Publisher. If you do not sign in within the next 30 days, your role will be changed.

Your role will change from Administrator to Editor for the following Apple News channels:

Michael Tsai - Blog

Dave Verwer:

I can correct their first line to “It has been several years since you signed into News Publisher”.

It’s an odd thing to do to remove an administrator privilege, though, and what do Editors not get to do? I’ll sign in and make it happy, but it’s an odd change.

It was an odd e-mail. With only one account for the channel, I’m not sure how you’re supposed to get admin access back if you lose it. There’s little you can do in News Publisher, so I almost never log in, but they should know that my account is active as I use the API to submit new posts daily. I do wonder whether that’s worth it, as it does not seem to be a significant driver of traffic, nor even have many readers compared with the Web site.


Update (2024-06-28): Nick Heer:

When I got the email, I immediately tried signing in, and it errored out in two different browsers on four separate attempts. Also, it isn’t available on iOS. A services company!

Half-Life’s Canceled Mac Port

Greg Gant:

It was natural for the game to be ported to Mac OS and OS X, as other high-profile first-person shooters from the era, like the Doom series, Hexen series, Quake series, Dark Forces, Deus Ex, Duke Nukem, and Unreal series, were all ported to the Mac.


In April 1999, Logicware under Sierra Studios announced that a Mac OS version was in the works, but by October it was completely canceled. The official reason why the port was axed was given by Gabe Newell, president of Valve, citing the lack of Team Fortress Classic and multiplayer with PC users and fear of releasing an inferior product.


For years, this was the accepted narrative. The port was nearly complete but didn’t live up to Valve’s high standards… that is, until recently, when Rebecca Heinemann (formerly Bill) spoke on the Retro Tea Breaks podcast, covering the ill-fated original port of Half-Life.

Via John Voorhees:

Drawing from an interview with developer Rebecca Heineman, who worked on the port, the video explains that Valve canceled the port after being misled by an Apple games evangelist about expected sales figures.

In addition to Heineman’s story about the cancellation of the Mac port of Half-Life, the video covers how Valve intended to bring the [Proton] technology that powers the Steam Deck to the Mac and why it never did.