Microsoft hopes to dodge antitrust probe via Teams-Office unbundling

April 25, 2023

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Microsoft will reportedly stop bundling Teams with Office, according to a report from the Financial Times. The move is aimed at helping the software company to avoid the official antitrust probe of EU regulators after Microsoft Teams competitor Slack complained about Microsoft’s bundling practices in 2020.

The report detailed how the plan will allow the companies to choose whether to buy Office without Teams in the future. Nonetheless, sources said that though the “talks are still ongoing,” it is important to note that “a deal is not certain” and that “the mechanism on how to do this remains unclear.”

Once implemented, this should give Slack more advantage over Teams, which continues to gain fame in the collaboration platform market. Microsoft, meanwhile, expressed its willingness to embrace remedies regarding the matter.

“We are mindful of our responsibilities in the EU as a major technology company,” said Microsoft. “We continue to engage cooperatively with the commission in its investigation and are open to pragmatic solutions that address its concerns and serve customers well.”

In 2022, Microsoft reportedly offered the EU watchdog initial concessions addressing Teams antitrust concerns. In the complaint, Slack alleged that the integration of Teams into Office was unfair since the chat and video app is owned by a tech giant with control over the most popular desktop software in the market. Slack stressed that by bundling Teams with Office, Microsoft directly engaged in anti-competitive behavior. At that time, it was reported that the EU sent a questionnaire to Slack, Zoom, Google Workspace, Facebook, and Cisco as it tried to gather opinions regarding the matter, a clear indication of the regulator’s interest in considering an investigation. The specifics of the concessions were not divulged back then, but this recent report is gradually completing the puzzle.

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