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Thursday, July 11, 2024

Microsoft reaches truce with cloud suppliers, ending EU antitrust dispute

Microsoft has signed a settlement with cloud suppliers after a two-year dispute over its licensing practices,

The settlement, which brokered not too long ago with the cloud affiliation CISPE (which is backed by Amazon, Microsoft’s rival), is meant to steer EU regulators to drop an antitrust grievance they filed towards Microsoft.

CISPE’s Secretary Basic, Francisco Mingorance, expressed optimism concerning the settlement, stating, “CISPE has given Microsoft the advantage of the doubt and believes that this settlement will present a stage taking part in discipline for European cloud infrastructure service suppliers and their clients.” As a part of the settlement, CISPE will withdraw its November 2022 grievance to the European Fee and pledge to not make or help related complaints within the EU or elsewhere.

In return, Microsoft has dedicated to modifying a few of its software program licensing practices inside 9 months. The tech big may even make a lump sum fee to CISPE and canopy its litigation and marketing campaign prices. Notably, Amazon “will neither profit from nor be sure by these phrases,” based on CISPE.

An Amazon Net Companies spokesperson criticised the settlement, arguing it affords solely restricted concessions. “Sadly, this settlement does nothing for the overwhelming majority of Microsoft clients who’re unable to make use of the cloud of their selection in Europe and around the globe,” the spokesperson stated. Amazon continues to face with others “who’re calling on Microsoft to finish its discriminatory practices for all clients.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith welcomed the decision, stating, “I’m happy that we’ve not solely resolved their issues of the previous, but in addition labored collectively to outline a path ahead that brings much more competitors to the cloud computing market in Europe and past.”

This settlement follows related agreements Microsoft has made with different cloud firms like OVHcloud, Aruba, and the Danish cloud affiliation to resolve separate antitrust complaints.

Ongoing regulatory challenges

The decision comes amid growing regulatory scrutiny of Microsoft throughout Europe. The corporate has confronted mounting stress from regulators, together with a UK investigation into cloud providers.

Not too long ago, the European Fee accused Microsoft of violating EU antitrust guidelines by bundling its Groups communications app with its standard Workplace suite. This cost adopted a probe launched final yr, triggered by a 2020 grievance from Slack.

In response to those issues, Microsoft has made efforts to unbundle Groups in Europe and globally. The corporate additionally launched “enhancements” in September 2023 to reinforce interoperability with opponents. Nonetheless, the Fee said that these adjustments have been inadequate to handle its issues absolutely.

EU Competitors Commissioner Margrethe Vestager emphasised that “Microsoft now has the chance to answer to our issues.” Brad Smith indicated Microsoft’s willingness to take additional steps, stating, “Having unbundled Groups and brought preliminary interoperability steps, we recognize the extra readability offered right this moment and can work to seek out options to handle the Fee’s remaining issues.”

Broader implications and future outlook

The continued regulatory stress extends past the cloud providers dispute. EU regulators are additionally analyzing Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI, the corporate behind ChatGPT, to find out if it constitutes a disguised merger.

As Microsoft navigates these regulatory challenges, the corporate has expressed a dedication to working with authorities to seek out options that deal with competitors issues whereas persevering with to innovate within the quickly evolving tech panorama.

The decision of the cloud providers dispute marks a big step for Microsoft in addressing antitrust issues in Europe. Nonetheless, the corporate nonetheless faces scrutiny on a number of fronts, highlighting the complicated regulatory setting for tech giants within the EU and globally.

(Picture by Matthew Manuel)

See additionally: Australia commits $2 billion to companion with Amazon for constructing a safe intelligence cloud

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Tags: cloud, Europe, microsoft

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