Microsoft has agreed to stop bundling its Teams remote collaboration software with its Office productivity suite, according to financial times. The company’s move is trying to avoid an official EU antitrust investigation while dealing with its biggest regulatory concerns in more than a decade.
FOOTSources say that companies will eventually be able to buy Office with or without Teams installed, “but the mechanism on how to do this is still unclear.” Talks with EU regulators are reportedly ongoing and “it is not certain to reach an agreement.” Microsoft told him FOOT, “We are aware of our responsibilities in the EU as a major technology company. We continue to collaborate with the commission in its investigation and are open to pragmatic solutions that address their concerns and serve clients well.”
Competing remote work platform Slack, now owned by Salesforce, complained to EU regulators in 2020, calling on officials to make Microsoft sell Teams separately from its ubiquitous Office suite. Slack’s general counsel said at the time: “We ask the EU to be a neutral arbiter, look at the facts and enforce the law.”
Microsoft is facing its first regulatory problems in a decade. The company reached a settlement with the European Commission in 2009, agreeing to offer European customers a choice of web browsers; it was then fined €561 million in 2013 for failing to consistently deliver on that. Of course, its most famous antitrust shakeup came around the turn of the millennium when it was initially forced to split into two companies, a ruling later overturned by an appeals court. Microsoft and the DOJ reached an agreement in 2001, agreeing to restrictions such as sharing APIs with outside developers and allowing PC makers to install non-Microsoft software on their products.
In recent months, the company has been fighting to receive regulatory approval for its planned $69 billion purchase of game publisher Activision Blizzard. The company is reportedly expected to get a green light from the EU and the UK, and has until July to appease the US Federal Trade Commission. Microsoft offered 10-year legal agreements to provide Call of Duty in Nintendo consoles and the Boosteroid cloud streaming platform to help alleviate those concerns. Sony reportedly turned down a similar offer.
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