Microsoft has made changes to Teams, following the European Commission’s formal investigation into its bundling of the collaboration tool with Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites.
In a blog post announcing the change, Nanna-Louise Linde, vice-president of Microsoft European government affairs, wrote: “These changes will impact our Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites for business customers in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.”
The changes address two issues the European Commission (EC) has with Microsoft. First, customers should be able to choose a business suite without Teams at a price less than those with Teams included. The second area of concern for the EC is that Microsoft needs to offer greater interoperability to enable rival communication and collaboration software to integrate with Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites.
The changes mean that from 1 October 2023, Microsoft will unbundle Teams from Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites in the EEA and Switzerland. Linde said: “We will instead simply sell these offerings without Teams at a lower price (€2 less per month or €24 per year). We will do this for our core enterprise customers, which represent most of our commercial business in the EEA and Switzerland.”
Microsoft will make Teams available for new enterprise customers to buy standalone and separately at a list price of €5 per month or €60 per year. Existing enterprise customers who already have a suite with Teams can choose to stay with their current productivity suite or to move to a without-Teams suite.
“For our small business and frontline workers, we will keep offering suites with Teams, but will at the same time offer a ‘without-Teams’ option, and this latter version will be offered at a lower price,” Linde added.
In terms of interoperability, Linde claimed that Microsoft already offers “extensive interoperability”, which enables companies like Zoom and Salesforce to create tailored and integrated experiences across Exchange, Outlook and Teams.
To address concerns over simplifying software development required for integration with Microsoft 365 and Office 365, she said: “We will create new support resources to better organise and point application developers to the existing and publicly available application programming interfaces [APIs] and extensibility in Microsoft 365 and Office 365 apps and services that connect with Teams.
“This will include new support resources to help address questions from customers and independent software vendors, including providing additional content to explain how data can be removed from Teams and used in another solution.”
Microsoft also plans to provide what Linde describes as “mechanisms to enable third-party solutions to host Office web applications”.
“While Microsoft Office file formats are documented so that any program can open, edit, and display documents created in programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, we have heard requests from competitors of Teams that they would like to rely on Microsoft’s functionality instead of building their own,” she said.
To support this, she said Microsoft would offer a new way for hosting Office web applications within competing apps and services, which is likely to work in a similar way to how Teams hosts third-party applications.