Microsoft accused of letting NHS use Teams for free to enact 'takeover by stealth'

Microsoft Teams Note20 On Keyboard
Microsoft Teams Note20 On Keyboard (Image credit: Dan Thorp-Lancaster / Windows Central)

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.

Sean Endicott
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at (opens in new tab).

  • That is some seriously paranoid stupidity. It's a platform for collaboration. What's stopping the UK government from switching to another platform later? As far as I can tell, nothing. What a completely contrived controversy.
  • It's not contrived and the concerns are valid. From a business perspective switching to a different platform will be costly in software/hardware compatibility, infrastructure and training.
  • Pretty easy for the companies that are saying it's Microsoft takeover by stealth.
    Provide the NHS with free alternatives just like Microsoft is and see who wins in the end.
  • Exactly! Funny how there is always a whine from companies to European legislators that they are unfairly disadvantaged, but the never seem to feel they actually have to compete. The irony of the it all is the comment baout a "frankly better" platform. I can tell you from experience, in Teams, Slack and other platforms, that once you use Teams and see everything it can do (none of which is marketed well by Microsoft), that Teams is the gold standard.
  • Microsoft dont market! Bloody idiots they are. Yeah I've used others like Slack and have to say Teams kills it. Hell if they had half a mind Teams on Win 11 would be blue and white, and ride some MSNM branding nostalgia and be one of the top messaging services. But they won't do that. People would rather 10m new emoji apparently than useful features
  • I am confused. How does this story help me choose which Dell laptop is the best? I thought that was the thrust of every story on Windows Central at the moment?
  • How hard is that? Pick the one that comes with TEAMs for free.
  • Gotta hit the leader on the legs.
  • Every organization had access to temas exploratory for a year. I think it still exists but might expire this month. Was nothing specific to the NHS as far as I can see.
  • So, you can’t be bothered to tell us what NHS is? Isn’t Teams free for everyone?
  • NHS is the UK's National Health Service. No, Teams is not free to everyone. The good news, for Microsoft, is that every single member of the UK government is so corrupt, inept and easily-bought, that MS could probably have just bribed their way into the NHS without having to give away anything for free. Any investigation will be equally corrupt and inept, so not too much to worry about. Just bung Boris Johnson (the UK'S alleged Prime minister, God help us all) a few quid, a hooker and some new wallpaper and it'll all go away.
  • The National Health Service. Public funded medical services I'm the UK. Best bloody thing we did! Successive governments have tried to gut the bloody thing but none dare truly try to get rid of it as they know they'd not be voted out, they'd be dragged out by their naughty parts! P.s. we 100% have rhe option to use private health care if we can/want to, just means nobody does not have access to medical care without concerns of medical debt. Sorry for the flag waving there. The NHS is a government body so they would fall under the licencing rules for those institutions usually.
  • Who the **** is NHS?
  • It is the National Health service, in the U.K. It combines our whole health services and what we rely on when we are unwell, and they are doing a good job, even if the government don't give them enough money to do it. and there are far too much money spent on privite companies.
  • The NHS is struggling as it is thanks to this government not putting enough money in and now the NHs is supposed to spend more money propping up Microsoft and Teams. More and more private companies are making far too much money from our NHS, times it was stopped,
  • Maybe you missed the word "free" and MS really does not need to be propped up.
  • They'll need to add fax machine integration if the NHS is going to use Teams!
  • Only the Government would complain about getting something for free.
  • Kwartengs probably been promised a kick back from some 3rd rate developer propped up by a venture capitalist if they take some pie in the sky proprietary system that will attempt to integrate everything cost millions, never work and be abandoned. While the actual staff are left to find their own solutions to keep communication going