BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU antitrust regulators are questioning Microsoft’s rivals and customers about its cloud activities and licensing agreements, a Reuters questionnaire found, in a move that could lead to a formal investigation and re-audit of the US software company.
The European Commission has fined Microsoft a total of 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in the past decade for violating EU antitrust rules and for failing to comply with its order to halt to anti-competitive practices.
The company returned to EU competition enforcement’s radar after German software vendor NextCloud, France’s OVHcloud and two other companies filed complaints about Microsoft’s cloud practices.
“The Commission has information that Microsoft could use its potentially dominant position in certain software markets to foreclose competition in certain cloud computing services,” the questionnaire said.
Regulators asked whether the terms in Microsoft’s license agreements with cloud service providers allow rivals to compete effectively.
They also want to know whether companies needed Microsoft’s operating systems and productivity applications to complement their own cloud infrastructure offerings to compete effectively.
Companies were also asked about the differences in license fees and commercial terms between the license agreements with cloud service providers and another program in which they package Microsoft’s cloud services together with their own cloud services and resell them indirectly.
Another area of concern was potential technical limitations of cloud storage services available on corporate cloud infrastructure.
“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,” Microsoft said in an emailed statement.
EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said earlier this week she is not yet concerned about cloud computing, citing competition from Europe’s Gaia-X initiative.
($1 = 0.9060 euros)
(Written by Foo Yun Chee; edited by Bill Berkrot)