Microsoft plans changes to dodge EU cloud computing probe

Microsoft’s license agreements would be revised to make it simpler for cloud service providers to compete, the company’s president Brad Smith said on Wednesday, as the company attempted to avoid a prolonged EU antitrust investigation into its cloud computing business.

In the preceding decade, EU antitrust officials penalized Microsoft 1.6 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for numerous infractions.

After German software supplier NextCloud, France’s OVHcloud, Italian cloud service provider Aruba, and a Danish organization of cloud service providers protested to the European Commission over Microsoft’s cloud policies, the business found itself under examination once more.

Smith told a conference organized by research tank Bruegel in Brussels that Microsoft was taking the first, but not the last, step to address the concerns.

He recalled Microsoft’s “amazing setback” in a lawsuit to the EU antitrust commission in 2007, which prompted the company to embrace transformation “which is a lot more pleasant than beating heads.”

According to Smith, Microsoft wants to listen to the issues and take action.

“It all starts with offering European cloud providers greater alternatives. So, if a firm has a data center but wants to operate solutions in its cloud PBX data center, we’re giving them additional alternatives with our software to do so, since that’s what they’ve been asking for “he added.

Microsoft will assist cloud providers in directly offering Windows and Office as part of a full desktop solution that they can create, sell, and host on their infrastructure.

It will change licensing agreements to allow clients to utilize their licenses with any European cloud provider that provides services to their own datacenters. Customers will also be able to purchase virtual environment licenses without having to purchase actual gear.

While some cloud service companies applauded the announcement, others argued that it was insufficient.

“The European Union prioritizes cloud usage and the development of European digital capabilities. Microsoft has a distinct role to play in this endeavour “Microsoft is a member of the European Cloud Alliance, which released a statement.

CISPE, which includes companies like as Amazon, OVH Cloud, and Aruba, rejected the move and asked the EU competition monitor not to relax its stance.

In a statement, CISPE Secretary General Francisco Mingorance said, “The effort unveiled today fails to address in any meaningful way the unfair licensing practices at the heart of complaints and concerns among cloud infrastructure service providers and consumers across Europe.”

He stated, “It does little to prevent the anti-competitive coupling of productivity packages with cloud infrastructure services.”

When asked about Slack’s 2020 complaint against Microsoft’s packaging of its Teams software inside its Office productivity package, Smith indicated bundling was a distinct category, but didn’t elaborate.

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