Microsoft separates Teams from Office, seeking to avoid EU antitrust fine

The Microsoft logo appears in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris

A view shows the Microsoft logo at the Microsoft offices in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris, France, January 25, 2023. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes Obtain licensing rights

BRUSSELS, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Microsoft (MSFT.O) said on Thursday it would separate chat and video app Teams from its Office product and make it easier for rival products to work with its software, but rivals said it may need to do more to avoid a possible fine. Antitrust in the European Union.

The proposed changes came a month after the European Commission launched an investigation into Microsoft’s linking of Office and Teams, following a complaint from the rival Salesforce-owned (CRM.N) Slack workspace messaging app in 2020.

Microsoft’s moves announced Thursday were similar to initial franchises that failed to address regulatory concerns. The European Union’s competition authority said it had taken note of the company’s announcement and declined to comment further.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters last month that the commission could file formal charges against the company in the fall unless it strengthened its bid.

Teams was added to Office 365 in 2017 for free. It eventually replaced Skype for Business and gained popularity during the pandemic in part due to video conferencing.

“Today we’re announcing proactive changes that we hope will begin to address these concerns in a meaningful way, even as the European Commission continues its investigation and engagement with it,” Nana-Louise Linde, Microsoft’s vice president of European government, said in a statement. blog post.

She said the changes seek to address two EU concerns, “that customers should be able to choose a business suite without Teams at a lower price than one that includes Teams, and that we must do more to make interoperability easier between competing communication and collaboration solutions.” . Microsoft 365 Groups and Office 365″.

The changes, which take effect from October 1, will apply in the European Union and Switzerland.

Microsoft’s core enterprise customers, who account for most of the company’s business in Europe, will be allowed to switch to the version of Office that excludes Teams at €2 per month cheaper than Teams. New enterprise customers can purchase Teams independently and separately for €5 per month.

New support resources will be introduced to assist customers and ISVs who want to remove data from Teams and use it in another product.

Microsoft will also develop a new way to host Office web applications within competing applications and services, as it does with Teams.

Slack’s owner, Salesforce, said it had nothing to add.

Rivals say Microsoft’s bid in its current state is unlikely to win approval by the European Union’s antitrust watchdog.

“It’s rigged. I don’t think the Commission will appreciate it. There is nothing extra in the offer,” said an industry source.

The stakes are high for the US tech giant, which levied €2.2 billion ($2.40 billion) in EU antitrust fines in the past decade for linking or bundling two or more products together, but has since sought a more conciliatory approach with regulators.

($1 = 0.9175 euros)

(Reporting by Fu Yun-chi and additional reporting by Subantha Mukherjee in Stockholm) Editing by Sharon Singleton, Peter Graf ((; +32 2 585 2866; Reuters messages:

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Fu Yunqi is an agenda-setting and market-moving journalist who has worked for Reuters for 20 years. Her stories about high-profile mergers have sent the European Telecom Index up, lifting corporate stocks and helping investors decide their move. Her knowledge and experience of European antitrust laws and developments has helped her publish stories about Microsoft, Google, Amazon and various market-moving mergers and antitrust investigations. She has previously written about Greek politics and business, when Greece’s entry into the Eurozone meant it punched above its weight on the international stage, as well as the giant Dutch corporations and the quirks of Dutch society and culture that never fail to attract readers.

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