• Microsoft previously bundled Teams, its flagship videoconferencing and messaging platform, with both Office 365 and Microsoft 365 suites. This meant customers couldn’t purchase these suites without Teams.
  • Companies presently subscribed to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 editions, including Teams, can retain their subscriptions.

Several months following the separation of Microsoft Teams from its Office productivity suite within the European Union, Microsoft Corp. has now unbundled Team worldwide.

The decision coincides with increased scrutiny of the company’s Teams go-to-market strategy in the EU. There’s speculation that regional regulators might pursue antitrust charges in the upcoming months.

Previously, Microsoft provided Teams, its primary videoconferencing and messaging platform, as an integral component of the Office 365 suite. Additionally, the service was incorporated into Microsoft 365, a software package amalgamating Office 365 with various offerings like Windows licenses and cybersecurity tools. Customers had no option to procure these software suites without Teams.

During mid-2020, Slack lodged an antitrust complaint with EU regulators regarding Microsoft’s product bundling practices. Following suit, Germany-based videoconferencing provider Alfaview also submitted a complaint last July. Subsequent to Alfaview’s complaint, the EU initiated an investigation to ascertain whether the inclusion of Teams alongside other Microsoft products constitutes an unfair “distribution advantage.”

Several weeks following the announcement of the investigation, the company took steps to amend its software distribution practices. Microsoft separated Teams from both Office 365 and Microsoft 365 within the European Economic Area, encompassing the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. These modifications also extended to Switzerland.

The licensing update announced recently mirrors the adjustments Microsoft implemented in Europe last year.

As of late, new customers are limited in acquiring business editions of Microsoft 365 and Office 365, which exclude Teams. These modifications encompass nearly a dozen subscription tiers categorized into three groups: Business, Enterprise, and Frontline. Subscriptions within the Frontline category cater to professionals who primarily operate away from a computer during their workday.

The monthly pricing for the new tiers varies, starting at USD 1.75 for the most affordable Frontline version of Microsoft 365 and reaching USD 54.75 for the premium E5 bundle. The latter includes Office 365 along with various cybersecurity tools, the Power BI analytics platform, and several other products. As a result, Teams is now accessible through a standalone subscription.

Businesses currently subscribed to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 editions bundled with Teams can maintain their subscriptions. Microsoft confirms that existing customers can expand their plans by adding more seats and renewing them as usual. When their current contract concludes, or on the anniversary of the contract in some instances, they will have the choice to transition to a subscription without Teams.

In a statement, Microsoft mentioned that the new licensing policy “addresses feedback from the European Commission by providing multinational companies more flexibility when they want to standardise their purchasing across geographies.”

Insiders informed Reuters that Microsoft’s adjustments are unlikely to deter antitrust allegations in the EU. According to these sources, charges could be filed within a few months. Additionally, EU officials have initiated antitrust inquiries into various other tech conglomerates to assess their compliance with the bloc’s newly enacted Digital Markets Act.