Microsoft to Sell Teams and Office suite Separately, Responding to Antitrust Concerns

Microsoft Corporation has revealed its decision to offer its chat and video application, Teams, separately from its Office suite on a global scale.
Microsoft TeamsThe US-based Microsoft believes the strategic move will address a number of antitrust concerns in global markets, Reuters news report said.

In Microsoft’s FY24 Q1 results, they disclosed that the number of Teams users reached 320 million monthly active users. That’s 80 percent of the overall number for Office 365 monthly active users.

This decision comes six months after the tech behemoth took similar steps in Europe, a move perceived as an effort to sidestep potential penalties from the European Union

The decision follows an ongoing investigation by the European Commission into Microsoft’s practice of bundling Teams with its Office suite, prompted by a complaint filed in 2020 by Slack, a competing workspace messaging app owned by Salesforce.

The Commission has been scrutinizing Microsoft’s integration of Teams into Office 365, a move made in 2017, replacing Skype for Business. Teams gained substantial traction during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly due to its robust video conferencing capabilities.

Critics argue that bundling these products provides Microsoft with an unfair advantage in the market. Consequently, Microsoft began offering Teams and Office separately in the European Economic Area and Switzerland as of August 31 last year.

A spokesperson for Microsoft stated, “To ensure clarity for customers, we are extending the steps we took last year to unbundle Teams from M365 and O365 in the European Economic Area and Switzerland to customers globally.”

This decision, Microsoft claims, is not only in response to EU feedback but also aims to offer multinational corporations greater flexibility in their purchasing decisions across different regions.

Microsoft outlined its plans in a blog post, introducing new commercial Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites devoid of Teams outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland. Additionally, the company is launching a standalone Teams offering for enterprise customers in those regions.

Starting April 1, customers will have the option to renew, update, or switch to the new offers. For new commercial customers, prices for Office without Teams will range from $7.75 to $54.75, depending on the product, while standalone Teams will cost $5.25. Pricing may vary by country and currency, with Microsoft opting not to disclose prices for existing bundled products.

Despite Microsoft’s efforts to address antitrust concerns, it may not be sufficient to preempt potential charges from the EU. Rivals continue to criticize the level of fees associated with Microsoft’s services and their interoperability with Office Web Applications.

Microsoft, which has faced substantial antitrust fines from the EU in the past, risks further penalties of up to 10 percent of its global annual turnover if found guilty of antitrust violations. News Desk

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