Microsoft faces new EU antitrust complaint on cloud computing practices

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Microsoft is facing a new antitrust complaint against Amazon over its cloud computing practices, and trade group CISPE, which includes Amazon, lodged its complaint with the European Union’s antitrust regulator on Wednesday.

CISPE alleges that Microsoft’s new contracts imposed on October 1, along with other practices, significantly harm the European cloud computing ecosystem.

Amazon is the market leader in the cloud computing sector, behind Microsoft and Alphabet unit Google.

“By leveraging its dominance in productivity software, Microsoft is increasing choice and distorting Europe’s digital economy as Europe’s customers look to move to the cloud,” CISPE Secretary General Francisco Mingorance said in a statement.

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In its complaint to the European Commission, CISPE accused the company of targeting European customers of its dominant productivity software, its Azure cloud infrastructure, to the disadvantage of European competitors.

Microsoft’s anti-competitive practices include tying its products to a bundle of discrimination; Self-customized pricing and technical and competitive levels include locking in customers.

Microsoft, which has been fined more than 1.6 billion euros ($1.6 billion) by the commission over the past decade, has previously said it offers its software to all customers, including rival cloud providers.

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Germany Italy Cloud service providers in Denmark and France, two of which are members of CISPE, have filed similar complaints with the Commission over the past few years.

Microsoft later amended licensing provisions and other changes to make it easier for cloud service providers to compete from Oct. 1 in an effort to assuage EU antitrust concerns.

Rivals Alphabet’s Google; Alibaba and Microsoft’s own cloud services are excluded from the changes.

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CISPE said the EU competition watchdog should address the issue by applying the trade body’s fair software licensing principles to Microsoft, which it drafted last year.

He said an independent European watchdog could be set up to scrutinize software companies’ licensing terms.

CISPE said the commission could also include an additional provision in the newly enacted technology regulation, called the Digital Markets Act, that would prohibit cloud computing gatekeepers from favoring their software applications.

(1 dollar = 0.9909 euro)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee. Editing by Jane Merriman)


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