Microsoft has agreed to stop bundling its Teams remote collaboration software with its Office productivity suite in a move aimed at preventing a formal antitrust investigation by EU regulators, according to a report in the Financial Times.
Two people with direct knowledge of the decision said Microsoft had made concessions to avoid a formal investigation after rival Slack complained in 2020 that Microsoft’s bundling of the two services was anti-competitive.
When buying Office in the future, users will be free to choose whether or not they want to buy Teams if they wish, but the mechanics of how this will be done remain unclear, the sources said. The sources stressed that negotiations are still ongoing and it is not certain that an agreement will be reached.
The move is part of Microsoft’s attempt to avoid its first antitrust investigation in more than a decade, and Microsoft has been trying to avoid legal disputes with the European Commission that have hit it hard in the past.
In 2008, the European Commission accused Microsoft of using its dominant position to push users to download its Internet Explorer browser by bundling it with Windows at the expense of its competitors. Microsoft and the European Commission have since settled and offered users a choice of browsers, but in 2013 the EU fined Microsoft €561 million (IT House note: currently about RMB 4.252 billion) for failing to deliver on its promise.
It is unclear whether Microsoft’s proposal for Teams will be enough to allay the regulator’s concerns.
Microsoft responded to the Financial Times by saying: “As a large technology company, we are well aware of our responsibilities in the EU. We will continue to work with the Commission on its investigation and are open to pragmatic solutions to address its concerns and serve our customers well.”