What unbundling Microsoft Teams will mean for EU customers

In the midst of an EU antitrust investigation, Microsoft Teams is now set to be offered to businesses separately from its Office suite

Microsoft Teams, which facilitates chat, video call and document management capabilities for organisations, was added to the Office 365 suite in 2017, and went on to benefit from the remote working surge that emerged at the start of the pandemic.

However, the platform will now be unbundled from the package including Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, to increase interoperability and avoid fines, reported The Times.

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New options for Microsoft customers

From the 1st October, new Enterprise customers in Europe looking to use Teams will need to purchase a standalone €5-a-month subscription on top of Office 365.

Meanwhile, existing corporate users of the Enterprise package will have a choice of either continuing with their current setup, or removing Teams at a reduced monthly price.

Microsoft’s vice-president for European government affairs, Nanna-Louise Linde, expressed hope that the development “will start to address these concerns in a meaningful way, even while the European Commission’s investigation continues”.

Scrutiny from Brussels

While insiders close to Microsoft had stated back in April that Office subscriptions would come with the option to leave Teams out of the deal, inspection from Brussels has continued.

The European Commission recently set up a probe into Microsoft’s business practices, alleging possible breach of EU competition laws through bundling together two or more products.

Rival workplace communication platform Slack had launched an official complaint accusing Microsoft of attempting to drive out competition.

Reacting to Microsoft’s announcement of Teams being unbundled from Office 365, Alex Haffner, competition partner at law firm Fladgate, says it “now falls to the Commission to determine whether Microsoft’s initiative is sufficient to close its investigation.”

Haffner continued: “Affected third parties, including Slack whose complaint precipitated the original investigation and other video conference providers who compete with Microsoft, will undoubtedly want the Commission to carefully scrutinise the small print of Microsoft’s ‘offer’.

“But, it does seem that a conclusion to this particular investigation is now in sight and the court based battles of the past will be avoided here.”


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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.