Antitrust regulators in the EU have begun questioning both customers and rivals of Microsoft (opens in new tab) regarding its cloud business and licensing deals.
According to a questionnaire seen by Reuters (opens in new tab), the software giant is facing scrutiny in the EU over how its licensing deals with cloud service providers (opens in new tab) make it difficult for its rivals to compete.
Over the previous decade, the European Commission has fined Microsoft (opens in new tab) a total of $1.8bn for breaking EU antitrust rules and failing to comply with its order to halt all anti-competitive practices.
This latest round of inquiries into the company is a direct result of complaints filed against Microsoft (opens in new tab) regarding its cloud practices by France’s OVHcloud (opens in new tab), German software maker NextCloud (opens in new tab) and two other companies.
Stifling cloud competition
The questionnaire being given to Microsoft’s customers and rivals by EU antitrust regulators lays out the European Commission’s latest grievances with the company, saying:
"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."
The regulators asked respondents if the terms in the company’s licensing deals with cloud service providers allow rivals to effectively compete in the space. However, they also asked if companies need Microsoft’s operating system and productivity applications (opens in new tab) to complement their own cloud infrastructure offering in order to compete effectively according to Reuters.
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Companies were then asked about the differences in license fees and commercial terms when it comes to the licensing deals the software giant makes with cloud service providers and its program where businesses resell Microsoft 365 (opens in new tab) and its other cloud services together with their own.
EU antitrust regulators are also concerned about potential technical limitations on cloud storage (opens in new tab) services available on the cloud infrastructure of Microsoft’s customers and rivals.
We’ll likely hear more from the European Commission once its survey on Microsoft is complete and at that time, we will have a better idea as to whether or not the EU plans to proceed with bringing antitrust charges against the company.
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Via Reuters (opens in new tab)