The European Commission (EC) – Europe's antitrust regulatory – has said it will look into a complaint it has received regarding Microsoft cloud practices. According to the Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe (CISPE), Microsoft is restricting choice to prevent rivals from growing in favor of its own Azure cloud platform.
“CISPE members represent the vibrant, autonomous and independent foundations of Europe's digital transformation and growth. We have filed this sector complaint to rectify the harms suffered by vendors and customers alike as a result of unfair software licensing practices,” says Francisco Mingorance, Secretary General of CISPE.
“Leveraging its dominance in productivity software, Microsoft restricts choice and inflates costs as European customers look to move to the cloud, thus distorting Europe's digital economy. DG Comp must act swiftly to open a formal investigation with a statement of objections against Microsoft's software licence abuses to defend the robust cloud ecosystem Europe needs and deserves.”
According to the group, Microsoft is using its productivity products – such as Office – to attract customers to Azure. While this is a natural tactic, CISPE argues Microsoft takes it too far and is “irreparably damaging the European cloud ecosystem and depriving European customers of choice in their cloud deployments.”
CISPE says Microsoft is directly engaging in anti-competitive practices to gain a cloud advantage:
“Recent announcements, blogs and FAQ documents published by Microsoft in an effort to head-off market investigations have not provided the detail, clarity or assurance that it truly intends to bring a swift end to its anti-competitive licensing practices,” CISPE says in a press release.
In response, Microsoft insists it does support competition in cloud and other areas and will continue to defend itself against allegations.
“The licensing changes we introduced in October give customers and cloud providers around the world even more options for running and offering our software in the cloud,” a Microsoft spokesperson says.
Microsoft is currently facing a European Commission investigation over its proposed $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In the US, the company is heading to court following a class-action lawsuit against the GitHub Copilot service. Earlier this year, Microsoft responded to allegations of anti-competitive behavior in Europe by making several cloud concessions.
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