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Microsoft to separate Teams and Office globally amid antitrust scrutiny

Microsoft has decided to separate its popular chat and video app, Teams, from its Office product on a global scale. The move aims to address antitrust concerns raised by regulatory bodies, particularly the European Commission, which has investigated Microsoft's bundling of Office and Teams since 2020 following a complaint by Salesforce-owned competing workspace messaging app Slack.

Last year, Microsoft unbundled Teams from Office in Europe to avoid potential antitrust penalties. However, the company has now decided to unbundle the two products globally to provide clarity for its customers and address feedback from the European Commission.
Teams, initially introduced as a complimentary addition to Office 365 in 2017, quickly gained popularity, particularly during the pandemic, owing to its robust video conferencing capabilities. However, critics argued that bundling the products gave Microsoft an unfair advantage in the market.

Despite Microsoft's efforts to alleviate antitrust concerns, analysts believe that the separation of Teams from Office may have little impact on the market landscape. Unlike the surge in popularity experienced by rival internet browsers following similar actions by Microsoft in the late 1990s, enterprise products like Teams are deeply integrated into workflows, making any disruption less pronounced.

According to Sensor Tower data, since the unbundling of Teams from Microsoft 365 and Office Suites in Europe in October 2023, the platform's user base has remained relatively stable. Microsoft has introduced new commercial Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites without Teams alongside a standalone offering for enterprise customers, reflecting its commitment to providing customers greater flexibility in purchasing decisions.

Starting April 1, customers can renew, update, or switch to new licensing offers, which vary in pricing depending on the product and region. However, Microsoft's unbundling efforts may only partially shield the company from further regulatory scrutiny, particularly from the European Commission, which is expected to send antitrust charges to the company in the coming months.
While Microsoft faces the risk of substantial fines if found guilty of antitrust breaches, its proactive approach in addressing regulatory concerns may help mitigate the severity of potential penalties. As the company navigates the complex landscape of antitrust regulations, its commitment to fostering fair competition and regulatory compliance remains paramount.

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