Microsoft splits teams, office globally

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Microsoft has announced its decision to globally separate the Teams business messaging and video app from its Office software.

Last year, the company initiated the separation of the two products in Europe amid concerns of potential fines from competition regulators.

Teams had been integrated into Office since 2017. The European Commission had launched an investigation into this integration following a complaint from competitor Slack in 2020.

A spokesperson from Microsoft informed the BBC that the decision to split the products is aimed at “ensuring clarity for our customers.”

It “also addresses feedback from the European Commission by providing multinational companies more flexibility when they want to standardise their purchasing across geographies,” they added.

Microsoft announced in a blog post that Teams Standalone will be priced at $5.25 (£4.20) for new customers.

It remains uncertain whether this decision to separate Teams from Office will be sufficient to avoid European Union (EU) antitrust charges.

Over the last decade, Microsoft has accumulated 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion; £1.9 billion) in EU antitrust fines for bundling or tying together multiple products.

If found guilty of antitrust violations, the company could face a fine of up to 10% of its global annual turnover.

In 1998, the US Justice Department sued Microsoft for leveraging its dominance of the Windows platform to suppress competition from rival web browsers.

Since then, Microsoft has relaxed its restrictions on software that computer manufacturers can install on their products, leading to the increased popularity of competing internet browsers.

Following the separation of Teams from the Microsoft 365 and Office Suites in Europe last October, there was little change in the platform’s user base size, according to market intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

Reuters cited data estimating that monthly active users of the Microsoft Teams mobile app remained stable in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the previous quarter.