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Microsoft to Sell Teams Separately from Office Worldwide

Microsoft has announced its decision to globally offer its chat and video application, Teams, independently from its Office product, the U.S. tech giant disclosed on Monday. This move comes six months after the separation of the two products in Europe, aimed at avoiding potential EU antitrust penalties.

The European Commission initiated an investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of Office and Teams following a complaint filed in 2020 by Salesforce-owned competing workspace messaging app Slack.

Teams, originally integrated into Office 365 in 2017 at no additional cost, gradually replaced Skype for Business and witnessed a surge in popularity during the pandemic, particularly due to its video conferencing capabilities.

Critics argued that the bundled offering provided Microsoft with an unfair advantage. Consequently, the company commenced selling the products separately in the EU and Switzerland on August 31 last year.

A Microsoft spokesperson stated, “To ensure clarity for our customers, we are extending the steps we took last year to unbundle Teams from M365 and O365 in the European Economic Area and Switzerland to customers globally.”

“This action also responds to feedback from the European Commission by granting multinational companies greater flexibility in standardizing their procurement practices across different regions.”

In a blog post, Microsoft revealed plans to introduce new commercial Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites excluding Teams in regions beyond the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. Additionally, a new standalone Teams offering for Enterprise customers will be available in those regions.

Commencing April 1, customers can choose to maintain their existing licensing agreements, renew, update, or transition to the new offerings.

For new commercial customers, Office without Teams will be priced between $7.75 and $54.75, depending on the product, while standalone Teams will cost $5.25. Prices may vary according to country and currency. The company did not disclose prices for existing bundled products.

Despite Microsoft’s unbundling efforts, it may not be sufficient to avert EU antitrust charges, which are anticipated to be filed against the company in the coming months. Sources indicate that rivals are critical of the fee structures and the compatibility of their messaging services with Office Web Applications within their own offerings.

Having accrued 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in EU antitrust fines over the past decade for bundling multiple products, Microsoft risks facing fines of up to 10% of its global annual turnover if found guilty of antitrust violations.

Source: Reuters

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