- Starting October 1st of this year, Microsoft will sell these bundles without Teams at a discounted total of €24 ($26) per year in the European Economic Area and Swiss regions.
- EU regulators in July opened an antitrust investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of Teams with other Office products, citing anti-competitive concerns.
Microsoft Teams displayed on the smartphone.
Soba photos | Light Rocket | Getty Images
US tech giant Microsoft said on Thursday that it will separate chat and video conferencing service Teams from productivity suite Microsoft 365, in a bid to allay European Union antitrust concerns.
Starting October 1st of this year, Microsoft will sell bundles without Teams at a discounted total of €24 ($26) per year in the European Economic Area and Swiss regions. Existing customers who already own a group with Teams can choose to stay with their current package or move to a product without the video conferencing app.
Formerly known as Office 365, the subscription-based suite of Microsoft 365 previously regarded Teams as the crown jewel of its workplace-oriented application offerings, which include Word and Excel. Teams debuted in 2017 and has gained popularity with users for facilitating text and video communication in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. Microsoft said in March that it intends to release a new version of Teams that will be twice as fast as the previous version.
EU regulators in July opened an antitrust investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of Teams with other Office products, citing anti-competitive concerns.
The investigation, which is still ongoing, marks the EU’s first antitrust probe into Microsoft in more than a decade, as Salesforce-owned rival Slack filed a complaint with European authorities on competitiveness grounds in 2020. Salesforce did not immediately respond to a request. CNBC for comment.
EU officials have expressed concern that the Redmond tech giant “could give Teams a distribution advantage by not giving customers the option of whether or not to include access to this product when subscribing to their productivity suites and may have limited interoperability between their productivity suites.” and competitive bids.
On Thursday, Microsoft also committed to strengthening resources related to interoperability with Microsoft 365 and Office 365. It will also build mechanisms to host Office web apps within competing apps and services.
“We appreciate the clarity that has emerged on many concerns from the intense and constructive discussions with the European Commission. With this clarity, we believe it is important that we begin to take meaningful steps to address those concerns.” Louise Lind, Microsoft Vice President for European Government Affairs Thursday said in a blog post.
“We believe these changes balance the interests of our competitors with those of European commercial customers, giving them access to the best possible solutions at competitive prices,” she added, noting that the EU investigation is currently in its early stages.
“We have taken note of Microsoft’s announcement. We have no further comment to make,” an EU spokesperson told CNBC.
Separately, Microsoft is in the crosshairs of UK regulators, who blocked its original plans to acquire Activision Blizzard over concerns it would stifle competition in the emerging cloud gaming market. Last week Microsoft made a new takeover deal proposal, introducing new franchises – which the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority will now consider with a decision deadline of October 18th.
— CNBC’s Silvia Amaro contributed to this report