Microsoft plans to change how it provides its Microsoft Teams collaboration tool in Europe. From October 1, businesses in Europe can buy Teams separately, without needing to get the whole Microsoft 365 or Office 365 package. This decision comes after the European Commission decided to look into whether Microsoft was being unfair by forcing businesses to get Teams with other services.
In July, the European Commission launched a formal investigation into Microsoft Teams relationship with Microsoft365/Office within the bloc. The EU investigation is the result of a complaint filed by Slack in July 2020, when the company accused Microsoft of abusing its market power and stifling competition.
Slack alleged that Microsoft had “illegally tied” its Microsoft Teams product to Office and is “force installing it for millions, blocking its removal, and hiding the true cost to enterprise customers.” Slack also claimed that Microsoft was using its dominant position in the operating system market to promote Teams to Windows users.
There have been reports since April that Microsoft was considering separating Teams from Office in the EU to avoid punishment from the EC. The company is now confirming that is exactly what it is planning to do.
On the EU Policy Blog, Nanna-Louise Linde from Microsoft said the company values the feedback from the European Commission. She mentioned, “We think it's important to start making changes based on this feedback.” She believes that while this might not solve everything, it's a step in the right direction.
What Exactly Will Change?
From October 1, 2023, in Europe, Microsoft will sell its Microsoft 365 and Office 365 packages without Teams for a bit cheaper (€2 off every month or €24 off every year). But if businesses still want Teams, they can buy it on its own for €5 a month or €60 a year. Microsoft also plans to make it easier for its products to work with other apps and services. They'll also let other software solutions use Office web apps.
Linde added that Microsoft wants to be fair to both its competitors and its European customers. She also said that Microsoft knows the European Commission is still looking into things, but the company will keep talking to them and stay open to more changes.
The EU has a history of taking action against Microsoft for bundling its products, such as Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer, with its Windows operating system. In 2004, the European Commission ordered Microsoft to offer a version of Windows without Media Player bundled. This resulted in a Windows XP N version available in EU markets. In 2009, the EU also forced Microsoft to offer a browser choice screen to Windows users in Europe, after finding that the company had breached antitrust rules by bundling Internet Explorer with Windows.