Microsoft to unbundle Teams and Office worldwide amid antitrust probe

Microsoft announced on Monday that it will sell its chat and video app Teams separately from its Office product globally, extending a move made in Europe six months earlier to avoid potential EU antitrust penalties. The decision follows an investigation initiated by the European Commission in response to a 2020 complaint by Slack, alleging anticompetitive behavior by tying Teams with Office.

Teams, initially integrated into Office 365 in 2017, gained popularity during the pandemic for its video conferencing capabilities, replacing Skype for Business. However, competitors argued that bundling gave Microsoft an unfair advantage. Consequently, Microsoft began offering Teams and Office separately in the EU and Switzerland last October.

According to a report exclusive to Reuters, the company’s spokesperson stated that the move aims to provide clarity for customers and address feedback from the European Commission, offering multinational companies greater purchasing flexibility across regions.

Although Microsoft’s unbundling may not significantly impact Teams’ user base, particularly in enterprise settings, analysts suggest it demonstrates proactive steps to appease regulators. However, it may not fully prevent future antitrust charges, especially regarding fees and compatibility with rival services.

Microsoft also introduced new Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites excluding Teams outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland, along with standalone Teams offerings for enterprise customers. Pricing for Office without Teams ranges from $7.75 to $54.75 for commercial customers, while standalone Teams costs $5.25. However, exact figures vary by country and currency.

Despite Microsoft’s efforts, the company still faces potential EU antitrust fines, with penalties reaching up to 10% of its global annual turnover if found guilty of antitrust violations, given its history of fines totaling 2.2 billion euros over the past decade.