Microsoft is making some major cloud changes to avoid EU charges

Racks of servers inside a data center.
(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft has announced a major revamp of its cloud hosting rules within the EU.

The changes will enable EU cloud providers to offer Windows and Office directly as part of a desktop solution they can build, sell, and host on their own server infrastructure, including products that have traditionally been licensed to run only on a customer’s own desktop or on on-premise server computers.

The announcement comes after Microsoft has attracted significant criticism for overly restrictive software licensing in Europe from companies such as French cloud provider OVH and Italian cloud service provider Aruba.

What does this mean for EU cloud providers?

Microsoft is also set to expand its software assurance program to enable customers to use their licenses on any European cloud provider delivering services in their own datacenters, similar to how they can do so on Azure today, whether the hardware is earmarked for dedicated hosting or is multi-tenant.

Microsoft says it will make it easier to license Windows Server for virtual environments and the cloud by relaxing licensing rules that are tied to physical hardware.

With the changes Microsoft will be making, customers will now be able to buy licenses just for the virtualized compute capacity they need, without needing to count the number of physical cores on which the virtualized environment is hosted.

A new Microsoft team will also be created to work with European cloud providers and "create a tighter feedback loop".

In addition, Microsoft outlined a more general set of commitments including recognizing “that European governments are regulating technology” and providing “cloud offerings that meet European government sovereign needs in partnership with local trusted technology providers”.

Will McCurdy has been writing about technology for over five years. He has a wide range of specialities including cybersecurity, fintech, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, cloud computing, payments, artificial intelligence, retail technology, and venture capital investment. He has previously written for AltFi, FStech, Retail Systems, and National Technology News and is an experienced podcast and webinar host, as well as an avid long-form feature writer.