Changes to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 due to EU competition concerns

Paragraph[German]The EU competition investigations underway against Microsoft seem to be having an effect. Suddenly, Redmond is announcing changes to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 to address European competition concerns. These changes will affect our Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites for business customers in the European Economic Area and Switzerland, it says. For example, customers will be able to choose a Microsoft business suite without Teams at a lower price (but this has long been known). And interoperability between competing communications and collaboration solutions and the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites is to be made easier. Furthermore, third-party providers will get the opportunity to host Office web applications themselves.


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I had reported today in the post Windows 11: Default browser to open links for EU users – big trouble about Bing ads about the surprising fact, that Microsoft wants users of Windows 11 in the European Economic Area to be less bullied with the Edge browser. Included in a Windows 11 Insider Preview is a feature that allows links to be opened with the default browser instead of forcing this for Edge. A German blog reader then pointed me in this comment to the post Microsoft announces changes to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 to address European competition concerns from today, August 31, 2023

In the article, Nanna-Louise Linde, Vice President, Microsoft European Government Affairs, confirms the connection with the competition proceedings that the EU Commission opened against Microsoft in July 2023. The reason for these proceedings were competition complaints about the bundling of Microsoft Teams with Office 365 or Microsoft 365 (as the product is now called).

Office/Microsoft 365 without Teams

Even before the conclusion of the EU competition proceedings, Microsoft has announced changes to dispel the reservations of the European Commission. Specifically, it's about bundling Microsoft Teams with Office 365 or Microsoft 365, where Microsoft had already announced for some time that it would abandon this practice (see Microsoft agrees not to bundle Teams with Office reported). Now, however, there is a concrete roadmap that will take effect from October 1, 2023:

  • Microsoft will unbundle its Microsoft Teams communications solution from the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites as of this date. This means that business customers based in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland will be able to purchase the above-mentioned suites without Teams. This will make the subscription 2 euros per month or 24 euros per year and user cheaper.
  • Existing enterprise customers who already have a suite with Teams can either keep their current productivity suite or switch to a suite without Teams.
  • New enterprise customers can also purchase Teams separately at a list price of 5 euros per month or 60 euros per year as a subscription per user.

Microsoft plans to continue offering suites with Teams for SMBs and field employees, but at the same time also provide a "without Teams" option. The latter variant will then be available at a lower price, as can be read here.

Improved interoperability with third-party products

Further, Microsoft plans to enhance existing resources for interoperability with Microsoft 365 and Office 365. Already, Microsoft says, companies like Zoom and Salesforce can create customized and integrated solutions to integrate their products with Exchange, Outlook and even Teams. However, there are arguably complaints/feedback that these measures by Microsoft are insufficient.


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In this environment, Microsoft plans to create new support resources. These are intended to make it easier for application developers to access the existing and publicly available application programming interfaces (APIs) and extensibility capabilities in Microsoft 365 and Office 365 applications and services that are connected to Teams. This includes new support resources to help answer questions from customers and independent software vendors (ISVs), according to Microsoft. That also includes providing additional content explaining how to remove data from Teams and use it in another solution. Ultimately, it's about more documentation, if I'm reading the announcement correctly.

Third-party hosting of Office web applications

The third measure is said to be creating mechanisms to allow third-party solutions to host Office Web applications. To that end, Microsoft states that while Microsoft Office file formats are documented in such a way that any program can open, edit and view documents created with programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint (don't want to comment on that right now). But Redmond says it has received inquiries from Teams competitors that want to use the functionality of Microsoft applications and integrate it into their own solutions.

To do that, Microsoft needs to develop a solution for hosting the Office Web applications in competing applications and services. However, the basic building blocks seem to already exist, as Microsoft states that this is already being done with Microsoft Teams.


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