01 Sep Microsoft to Sell Teams Separately in EU
Microsoft is unbundling Teams from Microsoft 365 and Office 365 subscriptions for business customers in the European Union (EU). The announcement was made today by Nanna-Louise Linde, Vice President, Microsoft European Government Affairs.
Back in July, the European Commission opened a formal investigation (PDF) “to assess whether Microsoft may have breached EU competition rules by tying or bundling its communication and collaboration product Teams to its popular suites for businesses Office 365 and Microsoft 365.”
The origins of this investigation can be traced back to July 2020, when Slack accused Microsoft of an antitrust violation by bundling Teams with Office.
In response, Linde says Microsoft is continuing to cooperate with the Commission, but decided to take the “proactive change” of removing Microsoft Teams from its existing 365 subscription options for any business customers in the European Economic Area and Switzerland.
Linde views the unbundling as addressing two concerns the Commission has, notably “that customers should be able to choose a business suite without Teams at a price less than those with Teams included; and that we should do more to make interoperability easier between rival communication and collaboration solutions and Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites.”
From Oct. 1, both Microsoft 365 and Office 365 will be sold without Microsoft Teams at a lower price (2 euros per month or 24 euros per year lower, which is a saving of around $26). Teams will then be offered separately for 5 euros per month or 60 euros per year (roughly $65). Enterprise customers who already subscribe can continue to do so with Teams bundled, or move to a “without-Teams suite.”
Depending on the number of users signed up to 365 as part of an Enterprise subscription, making the switch to non-Teams could offer a considerable cost saving each year.
Microsoft is also going to “create new support resources” for taking advantage of its 365 application programming interfaces (APIs). In other words, it’s going to offer more information to rival companies such as Zoom and Slack for integrating their services with 365 apps (e.g. Exchange, Outlook). Microsoft will also make it possible to host Office web apps within competing apps and services.
Linde acknowledges that the Commission’s formal investigation is still in the early stages, but clearly Microsoft is hoping this unbundling and added support will result in less scrutiny than it otherwise would’ve been facing over its business practices.