European cloud players file new complaint against Microsoft in Brussels

European cloud companies do not intend to give up in the face of Microsoft’s deemed anti-competitive practices on the market. Gathered within the professional association CISPE, they lodged an appeal with the European Commission to call on it to take action.

Microsoft’s recent announcements, blogs, and FAQ documents in an effort to avoid market inquiries have failed to provide detail, clarity, or assurance that it actually intends to quickly end its anti-competitive licensing practices”, writes the organization which counts among its members the French OVHcloud and Outscale, but also the American giant Amazon.

On the contrary, the new contractual conditions unilaterally imposed by Microsoft on October 1, 2022 add new unfair practices to the list.”, she adds, believing that “Microsoft’s current position and behaviors irreparably damage the European cloud ecosystem and deprive European customers of choice in their cloud deployments”, she adds, urging Brussels to act without further delay.

A second complaint

This new complaint supports the one already filed by several cloud players in Europe, including OVHcloud, in the summer of 2021. It focused in particular on the way in which the multinational markets its products, such as the Office software suite, which has become Microsoft 365, and the technical barriers that would prevent it from working optimally on competing cloud infrastructures. Questioned on the subject by L’Usine Digitale this week, during a press conference, the general manager of OVHcloud indicated that the European Commission had not, for the time being, formally followed up on this complaint and that the French champion should for the moment stick to the goodwill displayed by Microsoft.

The German company Nextcloud had also filed a complaint with the European Commission and the German regulator in 2021 to point the finger at the way Microsoft was promoting its OneDrive service in Windows, by preinstalling the software and encouraging users to utilize.

Simple remedies to apply

For its part, CISPE suggests “simple remedies that can be implemented quickly and effectively”, on the basis of “ten fair software licensing principles for cloud customers” developed in 2021 with Cigref, the network of French companies and administrations involved in digital transformation.

We filed this industry complaint to remedy harms suffered by vendors and customers due to unfair software licensing practices“, said Francisco Mingorance, Secretary General of CISPE.”Leveraging its dominance in productivity software, Microsoft is restricting choice and inflating costs as European customers seek to move to the cloud, distorting Europe’s digital economy“, he added. CISPE also calls for the creation of an independent European observatory to carry out periodic audits of the software licensing conditions of any dominant software company.

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