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Microsoft targeted by EU antitrust complaint alleging its cloud business 'undermines fair competition'

The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.
The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington. (Image credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Another complaint has been filed against Microsoft, this time of the EU antitrust variety (it was filed months ago but not publicly reported on).
  • This is one more in a string of complaints lodged against Microsoft in Europe due to the company's various advantages and tactics.
  • This most recent cloud-focused complaint comes from OVHcloud and several unnamed companies.

Microsoft's cloud business is yet another item in the company's roster of products to attract antitrust scrutiny. The freshly reported instance comes from OVHcloud, which claims it filed a complaint alongside other companies, though OVHcloud declined to name said companies.

It's said that the core of the complaint is thus: Due to the way Microsoft licenses Office, it's cheaper to go with Azure than it is other cloud offerings (via The Wall Street Journal). Here is what a spokeswoman for OVHcloud had to say: "Through abusing its dominant position, Microsoft undermines fair competition and limits consumer choice in the cloud computing services market."

Microsoft had its own statement. "Cloud providers enjoy many options to provide cloud services to their customers using Microsoft software, whether purchased by the customer or the partner," a company spokesperson said. "We're continuously evaluating how we can best support partners and make Microsoft software available to customers across all environments, including those of other cloud providers."

Microsoft is known for walking between the raindrops when it comes to legal scrutiny, so much so that company CEO Satya Nadella has claimed it's not about dominant market positions or lobbying efforts, but rather that "Microsoft is on the right side of history." The home of Windows 11 has faced EU complaints before, as well as negative attention from the UK, and it will likely deal with many more of these situations in the future.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

5 Comments
  • "Due to the way Microsoft licenses Office, it's cheaper to go with Azure than it is other cloud offerings (via The Wall Street Journal)." This argument might not hold water. These said other cloud companies' do not have office product, but there are free ones like Libre office, Google docs etc. Now you are complaining that MSFT gives discount on its cloud offering if buy office. My household took advantage of that by buying the family plan Office 365 ($129 / yr. which I typically buy on XMAS from Amazon and or MSFT for $99 during black Friday and XMAS sales) which give all the 6 members of my household 1TB cloud storage EACH. They should find partners' pricing for Office with MSFT and bundle it with their cloud offering to resell for profit or develop their own Office suite to compete rather than complaining in this case.
  • I think the report is by sometime who ether doesn't know the complaint fully, OR is only thinking about office. What i suspect the real issue is what's known as the Azure Hybrid Benefit. In cloud computing, users a pay per usage model, unlike a permanent license purchase or subscription, however licensing is included in this pay per usage pricing. With Azure, Microsoft gives your option of using your own license of Windows Server, Office, or SQL and reduce the usage costs of VMs, and since most businesses use Windows servers, it gives an extra incentive to go with Azure rather than AWS or Google, which I think is what the EU is complaining about. That said, you're also right in that you can simply avoid windows and office products entirely and use open source alternatives like MySQL, Linux, LibreOffice, etc. Even on Azure
  • Yea I think this dumb. It's called bundling services and a bunch of companies do it. Why shouldn't you save money when you bundle a bunch of services together? I greatly dislike these kinds of complaints because it just ends up hurting the consumer in the end. If I'm paying for 3 products that together offer up a single service from Microsoft I think I should get a discount. Just as others have said on this thread they are all MS products why shouldn't they offer a discount for their own products?
  • Good, i hope they succeed, but i doubt it, because Ms have far too much power, it is not good for one company that have that much control.
  • Looks like another lot of jealous EU companies getting the EU government to gather more money from another successful US company.