Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Office could be going their separate ways in Europe. The company has reportedly agreed to stop bundling the two products in the European Union, in an attempt to avoid an official antitrust investigation by the bloc's regulators.
This will mean the Microsoft Teams remote collaboration software will be separate from the Office productivity suite.
According to the Financial Times, Microsoft's decision is based on a complaint filed by Slack in 2020. Slack has long been spooked by the success of Teams and accused Microsoft of abusing its dominant position in the office software market by forcing millions of users to install Teams, which competes directly with Slack.
In other words, because Teams is a part of the Office ecosystem by default, it is an obvious choice for users. Microsoft may have been able to argue that Teams is just another feature/app in the Office suite, such as Word or any other tool.
However, a lot has happened since 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic saw Teams explode in popularity. From around 20 million daily active users pre-pandemic, the app now has hundreds of millions. Microsoft responded by expanding the service and over the last 18 months has rolled out at least one new feature to Teams every day.
That means Microsoft Teams is now very much its own thing, including a Teams Premium service that stands apart from Office/Microsoft 365.
Microsoft Eases Its Stance and Will Debundle Teams/Office
Slack argued that Microsoft's practice was unfair and anti-competitive, and asked the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, to compel Microsoft to sell Teams separately from Office. Slack also
However, Microsoft has apparently decided to change its strategy and offer customers the option to buy Office with or without Teams installed. The details of how this will work are still unclear, and the talks with the EU regulators are ongoing.
Microsoft told the Financial Times that it was “mindful of our responsibilities in the EU as a major technology company” and that it was “open to pragmatic solutions that address its concerns and serve customers well”.
The move by Microsoft is seen as an attempt to avoid a formal antitrust investigation by the EU, which could result in hefty fines and remedies. Microsoft has faced regulatory scrutiny in the past for bundling its Internet Explorer browser with Windows and was fined €561 million by the EU in 2013 for failing to comply with a previous settlement.
Microsoft may also be willing to play nice with regulators as it is currently in the middle of trying to get approval for its $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard. That deal is currently under investigation in the US, UK, and EU.
Tip of the day: After years of hefting a laptop around, you inevitably build up a menagerie of Wi-Fi networks. For the most part, they'll sit on your PC, hardly used, but at times a change in configuration can make it difficult to connect to a network your computer already remembers. At this point, it can be beneficial to make Windows forget a Wi-Fi network and delete its network profile.