According to sources cited by the Financial Times, customers will soon have the option to purchase Office without Teams, although the details on how this will be done are yet to be made clear.
Microsoft is currently in talks with EU regulators. While a deal is not guaranteed, the company remains open to finding “pragmatic solutions that address its concerns and serve customers well.”
Last year, competing remote-work platform Slack, now owned by Salesforce, complained to EU regulators about the inclusion of Teams in Office. It asked officials to make Microsoft sell the application separately from its ubiquitous Office suite. “We’re asking the EU to be a neutral referee, examine the facts, and enforce the law,” said Slack’s general counsel at the time.
This marks Microsoft’s first major regulatory challenge in a decade. The company previously settled with the European Commission in 2009, agreeing to offer European customers a choice of web browsers. However, it was fined €561 million in 2013 for consistently failing to adhere to that. Its most famous antitrust shakeup came in the early 2000s when it was initially forced to split into two companies, although an appeals court later overturned the ruling. In recent months, Microsoft has been working to secure regulatory approval for its planned $69 billion acquisition of game publisher Activision Blizzard.
A deadline approaches
While the company is expected to receive the green light from the EU and UK, it has until July to address concerns raised by the US Federal Trade Commission. To this end, Microsoft has offered 10-year legal agreements to provide the Call of Duty video games on Nintendo consoles and the cloud-streaming platform Boosteroid, although Sony reportedly declined a similar offer. The tech giant says it remains mindful of its responsibilities in the EU as a major technology company. It will continue to engage cooperatively with the commission in its investigation.