What you need to know
- The United Kingdom's Secretary of State at the Department of Business is reportedly looking into Microsoft giving the NHS access to Teams.
- Microsoft's move has been called an "exercise of control" and a "takeover by stealth," according to reports.
- Up to 1.2 million NHS members of staff used Teams
Microsoft made Teams available for free to NHS members of staff in the United Kingdom in March 2021. The move was made to help NHS staff members communicate during the pandemic, according to Microsoft. Competitors of the Redmond-based tech giant appear to view Microsoft's efforts in a different light. According to the Daily Mail, the UK's Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Kwasi Kwarteng, is looking into Microsoft's maneuver.
Kwarteng is reportedly looking into claims that Microsoft aimed to squash its competition by giving away access to Teams. The idea being that Teams would be free for some time, and then after the NHS got used to working with the communication software that Microsoft would charge licensing fees.
"This looks like 'NHSwashing' to rival companies – gaining lucrative leverage over health infrastructure under the guise of charity," said a source to the Daily Mail.
"Microsoft may have claimed to save the NHS millions of staff hours – but the price will be much higher later on down the line," added the Daily Mail's source. "Their licence renewals will not only be incredibly expensive. But it will be too late to find a system that is cheaper and frankly better. This 'NHSwashing' is a useful distraction, but the Microsoft anti-trust case is growing."
Up to 1.2 million NHS staff members use Microsoft Teams, making the worth of free access quite high. Some businesses reached out to Kwarteng and called Microsoft's tactics an "exercise in control," according to the Daily Mail. Accusations of performing a "takeover by stealth" have also been made against Microsoft.