Microsoft tells partners unbundling Teams is a 'compromise' with the EU

Meanwhile, Zoom boss calls on US authorities to consider adopting Europe's breakout policy

Microsoft has told its partner community that unbundling Teams from its Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites was a compromise – an alteration to the language it used when announcing the change.

Microsoft decided to unbundle its comms client after the European Commission launched an investigation into whether bundling Teams with Microsoft's flagship productivity bundles represented "anticompetitive tying or bundling."

The Windows colossus blinked and decided to offer versions of its suites without Teams before the Commission's investigation ended. At the time Microsoft's blog stated: "We believe these changes balance the interests of our competitors with those of European business customers, providing them with access to the best possible solutions at competitive prices."

But in a document [PDF] marked "Partners Only" that The Register was able to download from Microsoft without entering channel partner credentials, the software giant offers adifferent explanation: "… these changes are a compromise intended to address concerns raised with the European Commission while limiting disruption for customers, partners, and sellers."

The document also suggests the current unbundling may not be the end of the matter.

"In our view, customers can realize the greatest value by purchasing the full Microsoft 365 suite including Teams," the document states, adding "We will continue to cooperate with the Commission and remain committed to finding solutions that will address its concerns while limiting disruption for customers and partners."

One of the questions in the document is "If this licensing model is so good for customers, why isn't Microsoft offering it worldwide?"

Microsoft doesn't answer its own question – but Zoom CEO Eric Yuan thinks US regulators should.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Technology Conference on Tuesday, Yuan was asked about the impact of Europe's decision on Zoom's bottom line. "You should ask that question to the FTC as well," he replied, referencing the US competition regulator.

Yuan's reg-walled remarks on competition continued with a little homily comparing two basketball players, one of whom scores an extra point for each basket. Yuan thinks he's only getting two points per shot, and that unfair competition means an unnamed rival gets three.

Yuan also told the conference that Zoom has spent the last few years building video collaboration, phone, team chat, whiteboard, meeting scheduling, email, and calendar functionality into its client. Then he expressed his desire that "Ultimately we would like end users to stay within the Zoom client and get most of their work done."

Which suggests Yuan isn't opposed to all software bundles – just those that make his job harder. ®

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