Microsoft Faces New EU Antitrust Complaint on Cloud Computing Practices

Microsoft is facing a new antitrust complaint over its cloud computing practices. The trade group CISPE, whose members include Amazon, took its grievance with Microsoft to the European Union antitrust regulators this week.

Microsoft had new contractual terms that were imposed on Oct. 1. CISPE alleged that the new terms together with other practices are irreparably damaging the European cloud computing ecosystem.

Amazon holds first place in being the market leader in the cloud computing sector, followed by Microsoft and Google. 

“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,” CISPE secretary general Francisco Mingorance said in a statement.

CISPE said in its complaint that Microsoft uses its dominance in productivity software to direct European customers to its Azure cloud infrastructure to the disadvantage of European rivals. 

The complaint to the European Commission alleged Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices include discriminatory bundling and tying of its products, self-preference pricing, and locking in customers both on the technical and competitive levels.

In the previous decade, Microsoft has been fined more than $1.6 billion by the European Commission for various antitrust violations. Microsoft said it is committed to addressing valid licensing concerns and supporting a competitive environment.

“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 spokesperson said.

Cloud service providers in Germany, Italy, Denmark, and France have filed similar complaints with the European Commission in the past couple of years. Two of them are also members of CISPE. 

Microsoft subsequently amended licensing deals and other changes to make it easier for cloud service providers to compete starting Oct. 1 in a bid to stave off EU antitrust concerns. Rivals Amazon, Google, Alibaba, and Microsoft’s own cloud services however are excluded from the changes.

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