Microsoft offers EU an Outlook deal to secure LinkedIn acquisition

Microsoft has reportedly offered concessions to the European Union to try and secure approval of its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn. The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft has offered to allow rivals to access Outlook add-ins to display profiles from social networking sites other than LinkedIn. Microsoft is also reportedly allowing PC makers like Dell and HP to disable a LinkedIn shortcut that’s packaged on the desktop of some machines.

Microsoft originally released its social connector for Outlook as a separate add-on around seven years ago, allowing Facebook, LinkedIn, and Windows Live contact integration into Outlook. The connector is now built into recent copies of Outlook, and it largely serves as a way to integrate LinkedIn data. It’s this data that is at the center of the European Union’s antitrust approval, and it's a key part of Microsoft's acquisition.

Salesforce also tried to acquire LinkedIn, but ultimately failed. Salesforce has been publicly pushing regulators to block Microsoft’s LinkedIn deal as a result, fearing the ability for a rival to have access to a vast dataset of users. Salesforce claims that if it had acquired LinkedIn it would “have used the data within our own services appropriately and also licensed it to others,” but that “the chances of Microsoft doing the same without government intervention are slim.” Microsoft’s concessions don’t appear to address the data and metadata concerns, so it will be up to regulators to now decide whether Microsoft is offering enough to rivals.


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