Microsoft seals multimillion-dollar payout deal to settle EU cloud antitrust case

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Microsoft has reportedly agreed to a €20 million settlement to resolve an antitrust complaint it has been facing in the European Union regarding its cloud computing licensing practices.

The move (via Reuters) preempts a potential EU investigation, which could lead to a substantial fine. 

This particular complaint, one of two major battled the tech giant faces in the region, related to a complaint brought about by CISPE in late 2022.

Microsoft offers €22m to settle EU antitrust case

The Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe (CISPE) group, which includes Amazon and numerous smaller EU cloud providers, accused Microsoft of using contractual terms imposed on October 1, 2022 to the detriment of Europe’s cloud ecosystem.

Microsoft President Brad Smith commented: “After working with CISPE and its European members for more than a year, I am pleased that we've not only resolved their concerns of the past, but also worked together to define a path forward that brings even more competition to the cloud computing market in Europe and beyond.”

As part of the agreement, Microsoft will create a product enabling CISPE members to run Microsoft software on their platforms using Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure at prices equivalent to the company’s own rates.

However, the cloud industry looks to be unconvinced by Microsoft’s actions. An AWS spokesperson said: “We continue to stand with the growing number of customers, providers, and regulators globally who are calling on Microsoft to end its discriminatory practices for all customers.”

Google Cloud’s Amit Zavery added: “Many regulatory bodies have opened inquiries into Microsoft's licensing practices, and we are hopeful there will be remedies to protect the cloud market from Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior.”

Mark Boost, CEO of UK-based cloud company Civo, commented: “By making a deal with Microsoft that looks to be exclusive to CISPE members, CISPE members in the EU will receive some short term benefits, but the cloud industry and their customers will pay the price in the long term… The CMA’s cloud investigation can ensure the UK forges a different path to the EU.”

CISPE Secretary General Francisco Mingorance indicated that the settlement would mark the end of the ongoing complaint: “This agreement will provide a level playing field for European cloud infrastructure service providers and their customers.”

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