EU antitrust regulators are questioning Microsoft’s rivals and customers about its cloud business and licensing agreement, a questionnaire seen by Reuters shows a move that could lead to a formal investigation and re-verification by a US software company.
The European Commission has fined Microsoft a total of 1.6 billion euros (about 43 13,431.2700 billion) over the past decade for violating EU antitrust rules and for failing to comply with orders to stop anti-competitive practices.
German software provider NextCloud, France’s OVHCloud and two other companies have found themselves on the EU’s competition enforcement radar after complaints about Microsoft’s cloud practices.
“The Commission has information that Microsoft could use its potentially influential position in certain software markets to predict competition for specific cloud computing services,” the questionnaire said.
Regulators have questioned whether the terms of Microsoft’s licensing agreement with cloud service providers allow competitors to compete effectively.
They also want to know if companies need Microsoft’s operating system and productivity applications to complement their own cloud infrastructure offerings to effectively compete.
The companies were also asked about the differences between the licensing agreement with the cloud service providers and the license fees and commercial terms between another program where they package and indirectly resell Microsoft’s cloud services with their own.
Another focus was the potential technical limitations of the cloud storage services available in the company’s cloud infrastructure.
“We are constantly evaluating how we can best support partners and make Microsoft software available to customers in all environments, including other cloud providers,” Microsoft said in an email statement.
EU antitrust chief Margaret Vesteger said earlier this week that she still had no concerns about cloud computing, citing competition in Europe’s Gaia-X initiative.
Thomson Reuters 2022