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Microsoft Bows to EU: Unbundles Teams and Enhances Interoperability

Microsoft Bows to EU: Unbundles Teams and Enhances Interoperability

The News: Microsoft announced a series of proactive measures aimed at addressing concerns raised by the European Commission over the bundling of Microsoft Teams with its Microsoft 365 and Office 365 business suites. These changes are focused on the European Economic Area and Switzerland and aim to unbundle Teams from the software suites and enhance interoperability between Microsoft’s offerings and other communications solutions. See the complete announcement on Microsoft’s EU Policy Blog.

Microsoft Bows to EU: Unbundles Teams and Enhances Interoperability

Analyst Take: Microsoft’s recent announcement is a strategic move to head off regulatory scrutiny by the European Commission. The tech giant is taking two major steps: unbundling Teams from its Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites and enhancing interoperability resources between Microsoft’s offerings and other collaborative solutions.

A Focus on Competitive Freedom

Microsoft’s decision to unbundle Teams is indicative of the pressures it faces to ensure competitive freedom in the market. Beginning October 1, Microsoft will offer Teams as a standalone product and reduce the suite prices by €2 per month or €24 per year. The company believes this move will allow more choices for its core enterprise customers, which form the bulk of its commercial business in the designated regions. However, the implication goes beyond mere pricing and touches on business flexibility, an aspect of great importance to companies seeking to tailor their technology stacks according to specific needs.

Improved Interoperability: What It Means for Developers and Rivals

The second part of Microsoft’s announcement is just as crucial: a focus on interoperability. Microsoft aims to enhance its existing resources to make the development of integrated experiences easier for companies such as Zoom and Salesforce. By creating new support resources, the company aims to improve application programming interface (API) documentation and extensibility within Microsoft 365 and Office 365 applications that connect with Teams. This step is significant in ensuring that Microsoft does not edge out competitors by making it difficult to interact with its ecosystem.

Competitive Responses to the Changes in the EU

Competitors in the industry have not been sitting idle while EU officials debated the fate of Microsoft Teams. Over the past year, Zoom Video Communications has reportedly met with regulators from the US, EU, and other jurisdictions to express concerns about Microsoft’s alleged anticompetitive behavior. Zoom’s concerns primarily involve Microsoft favoring Teams over other unified communications (UC) options through price bundling and product design.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan highlighted the impact of unfair competition, stating, “If you have unfair competition, you may not win.” This statement was made during a discussion at the Goldman Sachs Communications & Technology conference.

What Do These Changes Mean for Customers?

These changes are likely to stir the competitive landscape, and businesses should carefully consider how these updates might affect their long-term strategies. The changes also serve as a warning bell to other large tech companies, indicating that market dominance can attract significant regulatory attention.

Although Microsoft is making these changes preemptively, the European Commission’s formal investigation is ongoing. Microsoft will continue to engage with the commission and adjust its offerings as necessary, but it is clear that Microsoft is willing to take proactive steps even before regulatory mandates.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

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Author Information

Craig Durr

As Practice Lead - Workplace Collaboration, Craig focuses on developing research, publications and insights that clarify how the workforce, the workplace, and the workflows enable group collaboration and communication. He provides research and analysis related to market sizing and forecasts, product and service evaluations, market trends, and end-user and buyer expectations. In addition to following the technology, Craig also studies the human elements of work - organizing his findings into the workforce, the workplace, and the workflows – and charting how these variables influence technologies and business strategies.

Prior to joining Wainhouse, now a part of The Futurum Group, Craig brings twenty years of experience in leadership roles related to P&L management, product development, strategic planning, and business development of security, SaaS, and unified communication offerings. Craig's experience includes positions at Poly, Dell, Microsoft, and IBM.

Craig holds a Master of Business Administration from the Texas McCombs School of Business as well as a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Tulane University.

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