EU antitrust regulators gauge concerns over Microsoft’s cloud operations

Microsoft is under scrutiny by European Union antitrust regulators as its rivals and customers are questioned about practices and licensing agreements surrounding its cloud business.

Reuters reports that it has seen a questionnaire issued to companies indicating potential concerns. If one is identified, it could lead to a formal investigation into Microsoft.

The questionnaire was allegedly prompted by complaints about Microsoft’s cloud practices from four European companies, including France-based OVHcloud and Germany’s NextCloud.

The questionnaire stated: “The Commission has information that Microsoft could use its potentially dominant position in certain software markets to foreclose competition in certain cloud computing services.”

Questions include whether Microsoft licensing agreements allow rivals to compete, whether there are differences in license fees and commercial terms in deals asking companies to package and indirectly resell Microsoft’s cloud services, and whether there are potential technical restrictions on cloud storage services.

In a statement, Microsoft said, “We are constantly evaluating how best to support partners and make Microsoft software available to customers in all environments, including those of other cloud providers.”

Cloud is a core focus for Microsoft, especially in the wake of the pandemic that has increased the demand for services that enable remote collaboration and communication.

At last month’s GDC 2022, the company announced two new initiatives: ID@Azure, a suite of free cloud development tools for indie studios, and the Azure Game Development Virtual Machine, which provides access to a game development workspace without the hassle of a special device.

The company has also indicated that it plans to publish cloud-native games through its Xbox Game Studios Publishing arm, with a team led by Portal designer Kim Swift.

Several major game companies use Microsoft’s Azure cloud services, including Sega and Sony.

Reuters notes that over the past decade, Microsoft has faced fines totaling $1.6 million from the European Commission for various antitrust violations, as well as for failing to comply with an injunction to stop its anti-competitive practices.


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