Microsoft Separates Teams from Office Globally: Will It Satisfy Regulators?

Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft decouples Teams from Office suite globally to sidestep EU antitrust issues, following Slack's complaint.
  • New unbundled Office packages and standalone Teams offering launch April 1, with pricing to vary by region.
  • Despite unbundling efforts, Microsoft may still face EU antitrust scrutiny and potential significant fines.

Microsoft will offer its communication platform Teams as a standalone product, separate from its Office suite globally.

The move comes six months after similar actions were taken in Europe to prevent potential antitrust penalties from the European Union.

This decision follows scrutiny from the European Commission. Salesforce-ownes Slack initiated it in 2020, challenging Microsoft’s integration of Teams with its Office suite.

Slack’s Lawsuit Against Microsoft

Teams was initially integrated into Office 365 at no extra cost in 2017. It replaced Skype for Business and gained significant traction. During the global pandemic, its video conferencing capabilities were especially popular.

The concerns were that bundling Teams with Office could unfairly benefit Microsoft over its competitors. The company has already separated these offerings in the EU and Switzerland since August 31, 2023.

This global expansion of unbundling Teams from Microsoft 365 and Office 365 aims to provide clarity and flexibility for customers worldwide. Multinational corporations looking to standardize purchases across different regions can benefit from the new decision.

New Microsoft Office and Teams Offers

Additionally, Microsoft disclosed in a blog post plans to introduce a variety of Microsoft 365 and Office 365 packages without Teams for customers outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland. Moreover, it will offer a new standalone Teams option for enterprise clients in those areas.

From April 1, existing customers can choose to maintain their current licenses or opt for the newly available packages, while new commercial clients will see Office packages priced between $7.75 and $54.75. The standalone Teams option is $5.25, although prices vary by country and currency.

Will Microsoft Face New Lawsuits?

Despite these changes, there’s speculation that Microsoft’s efforts may not fully mitigate the EU’s antitrust concerns. Potential charges can be levied against the company shortly.

Critics, including competitors, argue that the pricing and compatibility of their messaging services with Office Web Applications remain problematic.

If found in violation of EU antitrust laws, Microsoft faces the risk of significant fines, potentially up to 10% of its global annual revenue. This would add to the 2.2 billion euros in fines it has accumulated over the past decade for similar infractions.