CISPE rejects Microsoft’s supply to settle EU cloud licensing criticism

Unique Microsoft has up to now unsuccessfully tried to settle a criticism about alleged unfair software program licensing insurance policies within the cloud filed final yr with the European Fee’s antitrust crew by a group of native cloud suppliers.

The Cloud Service Suppliers in Europe (CISPE) commerce group representing 26 regional cloud suppliers – and AWS – lodged a criticism in November with the EC’s Directorate Common for Competitors.

This got here a month after Microsoft launched a sequence of concessions and tweaks to its licenses for software program for use within the cloud. CISPE responded on the time, saying if something the modifications added new “unfair practices to the record.”

At coronary heart, the problems embrace “unjustified and discriminatory bundling, tying, self-preferencing pricing and technical and financial lock-in” to “prohibit selection.” The practices are alleged to violate Article 102 TFEU and are grounds for formal investigation.

The EC just lately began asking cloud suppliers and their clients questions on Microsoft Azure, particularly about discriminatory pricing, the bundling of extra merchandise with the dominant Workplace suite, and the way Microsoft makes use of knowledge on its cloud service suppliers’ clients.

Microsoft has tried to settle the case earlier than the EU launches an official investigation, in response to a spokesperson at CISPE.

“It was a fairly paltry supply and really far in need of something we consent acceptance of,” the commerce group informed The Register. “In precept, we’re completely satisfied to settle it between us, however we now have minimal necessities earlier than we anticipate negotiations to go ahead.”

A separate joint criticism in opposition to Microsoft’s claimed restrictive software program licensing within the cloud was beforehand delivered to the EU by OVHcloud, Aruba S.p.a, and the Danish Cloud Neighborhood in Might 2022. It was settled in March this yr however the contents of that settlement stay confidential.

The settlement was beforehand criticized by CISPE and others for missing transparency. Francisco Mingorance, Secretary Common on the commerce group, stated the choice to face down in such phrases was “disappointing on many ranges.”

“What issues our members is that it’s nonetheless not clear what these offers are. They’re bilateral and secret, and though we anticipated one thing to be provided to everybody throughout the market (in any other case absolutely it is creating new antitrust points), it isn’t in any respect clear what the element of these modifications will probably be. We have seen solely very high-level commitments up to now. How will particular person distributors know they’re getting the identical deal as people who complained?”

El Reg wonders if CISPE will stick these ideas in its personal scenario. We might hope so and suspect AWS – which has criticized Microsoft beforehand – will probably be pushing for substantial modifications, within the expectation that Redmond has little urge for food for a possible full-blown antitrust case.

Microsoft can be dealing with complaints about bundling Groups and OneDrive with different software program suites, which the EC has additionally began to ask questions on.

A spokeperson at Microsoft despatched us a press release: “Now we have demonstrated our willingness to deal with legitimate issues concerning our cloud licensing phrases. Worldwide, greater than 100 cloud suppliers – 75 of that are primarily based in Europe – have already taken benefit of our latest licensing modifications and we are going to proceed to accomplice with the European cloud neighborhood on particular methods to allow their progress.” ®