Microsoft has confirmed this week the unbundling of its Teams collaboration tool from its Office suite of products.

Redmond confirmed the move on Monday in a blog post, in which it confirmed the change that it had already implemented in Europe and Switzerland.

It was in August last year when Microsoft confirmed it would unbundle its chat and video app Teams from its Office product suite and make it easier for competing products to work with its software, in order to stave off a possible EU antitrust fine.

Image credit: Unsplash

Antitrust complaint

It comes after the European Commission in July 2023 had opened an investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of Office and Teams, following a complaint by Salesforce-owned workspace messaging app Slack back in 2020.

Microsoft had actually added its Teams app to its Office 365 productivity suite in 2017 for free, with the aim to eventually replace Skype for Business.

Teams rival Slack Technologies said at the time that the 2017 move took unfair advantage of Microsoft’s dominance in productivity software to crush competition.

During the Covid-19 pandemic and worldwide lockdowns, Teams gained increasing popularity due in part to its video conferencing capabilities.

Teams is said to now have around 360 million users.

In July 2020 Slack (now owned by Salesforce) submitted an official complaint against Microsoft, alleging that Redmond illegally tied Teams to its dominant productivity suite.

Teams unbundling

In an effort to stave off antitrust issues, Microsoft announced last August it was unbundling Teams from its Office suite in Europe.

“Last year Microsoft updated the way Microsoft 365, Office 365, and Teams were licensed in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland,” blogged the software giant. “Now we are announcing our plan to extend that approach worldwide.”

“Globally consistent licensing helps ensure clarity for customers and streamline decision making and negotiations,” it added. “To that end, we are now updating the way Microsoft 365, Office 365, and Teams are licensed outside of Europe in keeping with the recent changes in the EEA.

Microsoft provided adjust pricing lists for customers in the blog post, which revealed in some cases certain customers will have to pay more money to get the same features.

Businesses that already pay for the Microsoft bundle can keep using Teams and Office as is or, “if they wish to switch to the new lineup, they can do so on their contract anniversary or renewal,” the blog post stated.

Software is one of Microsoft’s big earners, in conjunction with its leading position in the cloud services market.

Last year, Redmond generated nearly $53 billion in revenue from Office, including Teams. This was a 14 percent increase from 2022.

The unbundling of Teams will be welcome news for the likes of Slack and Zoom.

Zoom’s video chat app had soared in popularity during the Covid pandemic.

Image credit: UK Government/Twitter

However of late Zoom has struggled to compete with Microsoft’s suite of communications products.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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