In the wake of the European Union’s decision to compel Microsoft to cease bundling Teams with Office applications across Europe, Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, has proposed that the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) consider similar actions within its borders.
According to reports by Bloomberg, Eric Yuan made this suggestion during his appearance at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Technology Conference, where he responded to inquiries about Microsoft’s unbundling of Teams in Europe. The move to unbundle Teams came after EU regulators launched an investigation in July, prompted by a complaint from Slack, a direct competitor of Teams. Microsoft’s strategic integration of Teams into Office 365 at no additional cost had significantly impacted Slack’s market standing. Yuan remarked, “You should ask this question to the FTC as well,” as quoted by Bloomberg.
Yuan’s comment raises a valid concern about the practice of bundling software applications. Many have experienced this firsthand, with Vox Media transitioning to Google Meet due to its inclusion in the Google Workspace account, despite prior use of Zoom. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s persistent bundling strategy is evident in the presence of Teams icons in PC system trays, often launching automatically with computer startup.
This situation underscores Microsoft’s concerted efforts to promote its suite of products by leveraging one to boost the usage of another. Windows 11 users frequently encounter pop-up notifications pushing them toward the Edge browser, and default search engine preferences have been known to reset to Bing. Windows itself sometimes disregards users’ chosen default browsers when opening specific links within the operating system. These tactics have left many feeling Microsoft’s approach is increasingly assertive.
Microsoft Teams has undoubtedly achieved significant success, boasting approximately 300 million daily active users as of June. However, the question lingers: How much of this success can be attributed to its bundling with Office and its automatic presence on Windows 11 PCs? This query may soon receive scrutiny as discussions about the role of bundling in software market dominance continue.