Microsoft's reported LinkedIn concessions don't amount to much

To win EU approval for its buyout, Microsoft seems to be offering capabilities that aren't new

microsoft stock campus building

A pedestrian walks past a sign on Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond, Washington, on July 17, 2014.

Credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft

Microsoft has faced a tough battle getting its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn approved in Europe. Salesforce has challenged the move on competitive grounds, and the EU competition authority has reached out to a number of competitors for comment. Now Microsoft reportedly is suggesting a set of concessions to European regulators in an attempt to get the deal approved.

The tech titan has suggested that LinkedIn's competitors could create add-ins that let their content show up inside Outlook, according to the Wall Street Journal. Specifically, the add-ins would let competing social networks display their information in Outlook, so users could do things like see someone’s profile in a calendar entry.

Allowing companies like German professional social network XING to get real estate inside Microsoft's email client may sound generous, but it's not much of a concession, all things considered. 

Microsoft already offers an open platform for companies to create and publish Office add-ins, including those that run in Outlook. Any company can develop an add-in and distribute it through its own channels or Microsoft's Office Store, so long as it meets certain requirements around security and performance.

It's likely to be an even less appealing concession for Salesforce, which already has an Outlook add-in that it developed in partnership with Microsoft. The proposal also doesn't address one of Salesforce's leading concerns: that Microsoft is going to hoard LinkedIn's data, which it could use to gain a competitive edge in the CRM market.

Microsoft reportedly also proposed that manufacturers like Dell would be able to disable any sort of LinkedIn "shortcut" on computers they produce, in echoes of previous settlements the company has made around its bundling of browsers with Windows.  

Microsoft declined to comment on the report, and a representative for Salesforce did not respond by press time. 

It remains unclear how those suggested concessions have been received by regulators and whether the deal will be drawing to a close any time soon. Microsoft announced the blockbuster acquisition in June and said then that it expected the deal to close by the end of the year. 

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