Microsoft Teams

Teams to go solo in regulatory move

Microsoft’s decision to split its chatterbox app from Office is just the latest in a series of moves that proves Big Tech is not above the law, writes Jason Walsh
Image: Shutterstock

2 April 2024

News broke this morning that Microsoft has decided to ‘unbundle’ the Teams application from Microsoft 365, its all-singing, all-dancing, all-subscription-revenue-gobbling productivity suite.

Put simply, this means that users who do not want to pay for Teams no longer have to. This was already the case in Europe, but, following the move, businesses worldwide will no-longer have to stump up.

Post-pandemic, Teams seems to have come to dominate the video calling and collaboration market. It is my experience that during the first lockdown in 2020 that Zoom and Google Meet were the most commonplace applications used by the Irish businesses but by this year almost every meeting was held using Teams.




This is all anecdotal but no reliable market share statistics are available. However, some estimates can be made: figures from SignHouse say Teams had garnered a 14.5% market share in 2021. Notably, they claim it saw some 894% growth from March to June 2020 and accounted for some 14.5% of the Internet video conferencing call market in 2021. 

Even with the possibility of miscounting, it is certainly clear that Teams has seen staggering growth in recent years. Of course, this is in no small part thanks to it being bundled as part of Microsoft 365 (née Office), which is absolutely standard in businesses across the world. 

Politics before technology

This neatly brings us on to the fact that Microsoft’s latest move demonstrates that, despite claims to the contrary, the big beasts of tech indeed can be reined in. The move to cut Teams loose only happened because of an ongoing European Commission investigation following a complaint from rival Slack in 2020.

A Microsoft spokesperson told the BBC that the move is to “ensure clarity for our customers” and “also addresses feedback from the European Commission by providing multinational companies more flexibility when they want to standardise their purchasing across geographies”.

Redmond is not alone as plenty of outsized tech companies are being forced onto a high moral fibre anti-monopoly diet.

Last week The Register reported that since Apple implemented a browser choice screen for iPhones as a response to the EU Digital Markets Act (DMA), alternative browsers have seen a surge in downloads. Google has also added a browser choice screen to its Android mobile operating system as well as, crucially, search choice. 

It seems that following decades of the tech industry doing everything it can to ensure vendor lock-in we could now be heading into an era in which you can do whatever you want with things that you own. Imagine that.

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