Microsoft has been dealt another blow as Amazon fights the outcome of the JEDI cloud contract evaluation. It was awarded the contract after a lengthy review process and accusations that the contract terms unfairly favored AWS. Unsealed documents now reveal that a federal claims judge believes Amazon “likely” to succeed in a key argument of the case.
The opinion comes from Patricia Campbell-Smith, the very same judge that ordered Microsoft to cease work on the contract on February 13, until the court challenge is resolved.
She says Amazon “is likely to succeed on the merits of its argument that the DOD improperly evaluated”.
Specifically, she thinks the retail giant will be able to show that a Microsoft price scenario its bid hinged on was not technically feasible. The judge further says means Amazon’s “chance of securing the award was not insubstantial absent the error”.
Microsoft’s response has been to downplay the significance of the judge’s comments. Communications lead Frank Shaw said Amazon is trying to elevate superficial labels over technical performance, further adding that if Microsoft’s bid didn’t meet the requirement, nor did AWS’.
Amazon’s case focuses on a “lone technical finding by the Department of Defense about data storage”, which was under one of six price scenarios, he continued.
“We have confidence in our technology, our bid, and the professional staff at the Department of Defense. We believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work,” he said.
Microsoft President Brad Smith has previously talked up the company’s requirements, saying it worked to exceed them, rather than just meet them. This is an indication that it may have been a little too confident in its estimations.
In an email to Business Insider, one analyst called this development a “gut punch” for Microsoft. Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives suggested there’s plenty of reason for the company to be concerned.
“Clearly this Amazon vs. MSFT battle on JEDIgate appear heading down a contentious path as the Pentagon’s decisions are scrutinized. While we still believe this deal is MSFT’s to lose, comments about ‘the error’ was a clear initial win for Amazon in this trial,” he said.
At this point, it’s worth noting that these legal battles are very difficult to predict. There’s still much we don’t know about the case, Microsoft’s defense, and specific details of the proposals. Even so, the comments by a judge familiar with the case isn’t a good start for the tech giant.