Microsoft has announced plans to unbundle its Teams software from its Office suite in Europe in response to concerns raised in an antitrust investigation by the European Union (EU), The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday (Aug. 31).
The move will see the software giant offering business customers in Europe the option to purchase a lower-priced version of its productivity suites that does not include the Teams videoconferencing app. New customers, however, will still have the choice to buy Teams separately if they wish to use the service.
Microsoft’s decision to unbundle Teams in Europe is seen as a step in the right direction when it comes to addressing the EU’s antitrust concerns. “We believe this is a constructive step that can start to lead to immediate and meaningful changes in the market,” Nanna-Louise Linde, Microsoft’s vice president for European government affairs, said.
The changes will come into effect at the beginning of October and will apply to the European Economic Area, excluding the United Kingdom and Switzerland. The European Commission, the executive body of the EU, has taken note of Microsoft’s announcement but has not commented on whether it will help address their concerns.
The EU’s antitrust investigation was launched in July, with the commission expressing concerns that Microsoft’s practice of bundling Teams with its productivity software could be an abuse of its dominant position. The commission also alleged that Microsoft may have limited interoperability between its productivity suites and competing products.
This investigation marks the first formal EU probe that Microsoft has faced in over a decade. In the past, the company has been targeted by competition watchdogs in Europe and the United States for bundling its Internet Explorer browser and media player with the Windows operating system.
In addition to unbundling Teams, Microsoft has also pledged to make it easier for customers using rival apps and services to display and edit documents created using its productivity tools. This move aims to address concerns about limited interoperability between Microsoft’s products and competing platforms.
The EU investigation was initiated following a complaint filed in 2020 by business-messaging app Slack, which accused Microsoft of forcing companies to install Teams and blocking its removal.