Microsoft has agreed that it will allow customers to purchase its Office software without its Teams collaboration app bundled in, in a move aimed at addressing antitrust concerns raised by the European Union (EU). The move comes after the EU launched a review of Microsoft’s bundling practices in response to a complaint filed by Slack in 2020, accusing the tech giant of engaging in anticompetitive behavior.
Slack, a popular team collaboration tool, competes with Microsoft Teams, which has been rapidly gaining market share. Microsoft has been criticized for automatically including Teams every time a customer purchases Office, effectively giving Teams an unfair advantage over its rivals.
The European Commission, the EU’s regulatory body, has been investigating Microsoft’s bundling practices and is expected to make a decision soon. The unbundling of Office and Teams could help Microsoft avoid a formal antitrust investigation by the EU.
Microsoft’s move is part of a broader effort to address antitrust concerns raised by regulators around the world. The tech giant is currently facing scrutiny over its $68.7 billion bid to acquire Activision, and regulators in the US and UK are investigating the deal. Microsoft has also been accused of unfair software licensing practices by cloud computing rivals in the EU.
In a statement, Microsoft said that it is “open to pragmatic solutions” and is responding to the European Commission’s inquiry. The tech giant has a history of antitrust issues, having faced multiple investigations and lawsuits over the years. However, the company has also been praised for its recent efforts to address antitrust concerns and work collaboratively with regulators.
The unbundling of Office and Teams is a significant move for Microsoft, as Teams has become an increasingly important part of the company’s business strategy. However, the tech giant may be willing to sacrifice short-term gains in order to address antitrust concerns and maintain a positive relationship with regulators.