Microsoft Teams Will Be Sold Separately From Office Globally Due to EU Probe

Microsoft will sell Teams, its video meeting application, separately from the commercial Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites across the world starting as soon as Monday, April 1.

The Teams product was unbundled from Microsoft 365 and Office 365 in the European Economic Area and Switzerland on October 1, 2023. Microsoft is unbundling Teams and Office internationally now because doing so “addresses feedback from the European Commission by providing multinational companies more flexibility when they want to standardize their purchasing across geographies,” according to a statement from Microsoft provided to TechRepublic.

Plus, “Globally consistent licensing helps ensure clarity for customers and streamline decision making and negotiations,” a Microsoft representative wrote in a blog post on April 1.

The fact that Microsoft is doing so internationally shows that European Union antitrust regulations have an impact on how global companies do business across the world.

Why is Microsoft unbundling Teams and Office?

In August 2023, Microsoft posted a blog about why the Teams and commercial Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites would be decoupled in the EEA and Switzerland. According to the post, the European Commission asked the company to decouple the products in order to address two concerns:

  • That customers should be able to choose a business suite without Teams at a price less than those with Teams included.
  • That Microsoft should do more to make interoperability easier between Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites and their competitors.

The European Commission began investigating Teams in 2020 after competitor Slack, owned by Salesforce, filed an antitrust complaint.

SEE: The European Commission opened antitrust investigations into Alphabet, Apple and Meta in late March. (TechRepublic)

If Microsoft didn’t unbundle the products in the EEA, the tech giant could have faced a fine from the European Commission. Extending the unbundling to international markets could be a bid to cover their bases ahead of other antitrust cases that might occur in the future if other regions adopt practices similar to those of the European Commission.

What does unbundling Microsoft Teams and Office mean for IT pros?

How the change affects IT professionals may depend on whether they choose to keep or change their current commercial Microsoft 365 and Office 365 plans.

Most organizations are likely to keep their current plan, with Teams included, said Christopher Trueman, senior principal analyst at Gartner.

“It doesn’t really change anything about the IT administration of Teams except if maybe at the next renewal they wanted to move away from Teams for a specific portion of their users,” he said. For example, some customers might want to remove Teams to save money or might look for “a best-of-breed solution from another provider” such as Slack or WebEx.

But Teams is popular, and a lot of organizations have institutional knowledge of how to use it, Trueman pointed out.

Another possible impact of the European Commission’s dealings with Microsoft down the road could be that applications not previously interoperable with Microsoft Office may gain some interoperability. When the unbundling was announced for the EEA and Switzerland, one of Microsoft’s initiatives was to enable third-party solutions to host Office web applications. There has been no word from Microsoft yet on whether this initiative may be expanded to the international unbundling, though, and content from many other programs can already be used in Office and vice versa.

How much do Microsoft Teams and Office cost?

After April 1, Office without Teams for commercial customers will cost from $7.75 to $54.75 per user per month, depending on the plan. By itself, Teams for commercial customers will cost $5.25 per user per month.

Customers who have a licensing deal with Microsoft now can either retain it or switch to a new bundle.

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