EU antitrust regulators are quizzing Microsoft’s rivals and customers about its cloud business and licensing deals in a move that could lead to a formal investigation and renewed scrutiny of the US software company.
The European Commission has fined Microsoft a total €1.6-billion in the previous decade for breaching EU antitrust rules and for not complying with its order to halt anticompetitive practices.
The company found itself on the EU competition enforcer’s radar again after German software provider NextCloud, France’s OVHcloud and two other companies filed complaints about Microsoft’s cloud practices.
“The commission has information that Microsoft may be using its potentially dominant position in certain software markets to foreclose competition regarding certain cloud computing services,” a questionnaire sent to rivals by the commission said.
Regulators asked if the terms in Microsoft’s licensing deals with cloud service providers allow rivals to compete effectively. They also want to know if companies needed Microsoft’s operating systems and productivity applications to complement their own cloud infrastructure offering in order to compete effectively.
Companies also were asked about the differences in licence fees and commercial terms between the licensing deals with cloud service providers and another programme in which they package and indirectly resell Microsoft’s cloud services together with their own.
Another focus was potential technical limitations on cloud storage services available on companies’ cloud infrastructure.
“We’re continuously evaluating how we can best support partners and make Microsoft software available to customers across all environments, including those of other cloud providers,” Microsoft said in an e-mailed statement.
EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager last week said she has no concerns yet about cloud computing and cited the competition from Europe’s Gaia-X initiative. — Paresh Dave, (c) 2022 Reuters