Microsoft has announced plans to decouple its chat and video application, Teams, from its Office suite, as well as enhance compatibility with rival products, in an effort to avert potential antitrust penalties from the European Union (EU).
The move comes in response to an investigation initiated by the European Commission after a complaint filed by Slack, a workspace messaging app owned by Salesforce, in 2020.
Despite initial attempts to address concerns, Microsoft’s preliminary concessions were deemed insufficient. The EU competition authority refrained from providing further commentary on Microsoft’s announcement.
Teams was integrated into Office 365 in 2017 at no additional cost. It eventually supplanted Skype for Business and gained traction during the pandemic due to its video conferencing capabilities.
Nanna-Louise Linde, Microsoft’s Vice President for European Government Affairs, conveyed that the adjustments aim to tackle two primary EU concerns: the ability for customers to choose an Office suite without Teams at a reduced cost, and improved interoperability between competing communication and collaboration solutions alongside Microsoft 365 and Office 365 packages.
Commencing from October 1, the changes will be applicable in Europe and Switzerland. Office packages excluding Teams will be available at a reduced price, lowering the cost by EUR 2 per month or EUR 24 annually for core enterprise customers.
New enterprise clients will have the option to acquire Teams separately for EUR 5 monthly or EUR 60 yearly, while existing enterprise customers with a Teams-inclusive suite can decide whether to retain their current package or switch to a Teams-excluded version.
Enhanced resources will be introduced to assist customers and independent software vendors in migrating data from Teams to other products. Microsoft also intends to develop a methodology for hosting Office web applications within competing applications, similar to its approach with Teams.
For Microsoft, the stakes are considerable. The company incurred EUR 2.2 billion in EU antitrust fines during the prior decade for bundling products, prompting it to adopt a more cooperative stance with regulators in recent times.