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Microsoft Splits Its Teams From Office Worldwide

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

The tech giant had initially undertaken this division in Europe last year amidst potential regulatory penalties from competition authorities. This move comes amid ongoing scrutiny from the European Commission, triggered by a complaint from rival Slack in 2020.

A spokesperson from Microsoft informed the news that this separation aims to “ensure clarity for our customers” and “addresses feedback from the European Commission by providing multinational companies more flexibility when they want to standardize their purchasing across geographies.”

According to a blog post by Microsoft, Teams Standalone will be available for $5.25 (£4.20) for new customers.

However, it remains uncertain whether this action will be adequate to avert potential antitrust charges from the European Union (EU). Microsoft has incurred significant fines totaling 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion; £1.9 billion) over the past decade due to antitrust violations related to product bundling.

If found culpable for antitrust breaches, the company could face fines of up to 10% of its global annual turnover.

Microsoft’s history with antitrust issues stretches back to 1998, when the US Justice Department sued the company for leveraging its dominance in the Windows platform to suppress competition from rival web browsers. Since then, Microsoft has relaxed its control over pre-installed software on computers, leading to the proliferation of alternative internet browsers.

Following the separation of Teams from Microsoft 365 and Office Suites in Europe last October, market intelligence firm Sensor Tower noted minimal fluctuations in the platform’s user base. Reuters data suggests that monthly active users of the Microsoft Teams mobile app remained stagnant in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the previous quarter.

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